We strive to improve environmental regulations, budgets, and justice in the Neponset Watershed.

Thoughtful public policy helps to secure clean water and environmentally responsible development and redevelopment throughout the Watershed.

Our work ensures:

  • rules protect the environment,
  • those who enforce the rules have the resources they need, and
  • plans for land development or redevelopment are responsibly designed and implemented.

In addition, we work with our Watershed communities to:

  • implement evidence-based policies that will improve climate change resilience,
  • increase equitable access to the Neponset River and its surrounding lands,
  • clean and restore the Watershed to benefit the environment and the people who live in it, and
  • increase climate resilience through appropriate planning, regulatory updates, and capital projects.

Looking to make a difference in your community?

  • Are you actively involved in your community’s events?
  • Are you the first person to know what’s brewing in your neighborhood?
  • Do you know what’s going to be in the Public Notice sections of the local paper before it’s printed?

If so, we’d like to recruit you to be a volunteer community liaison!

We’re seeking at least two people from each of our communities to regularly let us know about relevant public hearings, community meetings, development proposals, and emerging local issues impacting the Watershed.

The perspective of local residents on local proposals is crucial to our advocacy efforts. You bring all of your historical knowledge of town policies, the evolution of various uses of property in town, and have your ear to the ground on the direction in which your neighborhoods are moving. We’d like to harness that insight to inform our advocacy work.

If interested, please contact NepRWA Managing Director for Community Resilience, Kerry Snyder at snyder@neponset.org

Attend Town Meeting

Town meeting has been described as the purest form of democracy–and your participation is crucial. The great majority of Neponset River Watershed towns govern themselves through Town Meeting. This requires Town Meeting Members to attend and vote on the Town’s operating budget, capital expenses, and bylaws.

Several types of town policies can support healthy and resilient Watershed communities. For example, full funding of DPW operations that help the community reduce pollution and comply with its federal stormwater permit, such as stormwater infrastructure maintenance, street cleaning, and outreach to residents and businesses:

  • Climate resilient land use regulations
  • Preservation of open space in the community (assisted through the adoption of the Community Preservation Act)
  • Effective enforcement of permit conditions aimed at reducing pollution and protecting the environment
  • Efficient water use policies

In short, we need you to be a Town Meeting voter! We need you to take action and advocate for town bylaws and policies that will preserve and protect the Neponset River as a healthy and accessible resource for everyone.

For more information about Town Meetings and their process, visit the Secretary of State’s website here.

Policy change leads to broad behavior change.  It can mean a change to a statute, regulation, or private rule, and can also be accomplished through litigation (getting a court to formally interpret the application of existing law).

Our past policy advocacy efforts include:

  • Support of a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) concerning the agency’s unlawful delay in implementing the 2016 Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) Permit.
  • Co-signing a petition to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) requesting fairness in water use by imposing reasonable conservation measures on registered water users under the state’s Water Management Act.
  • Engaging with MassDEP around the improvement of their evaluation of water quality in the Neponset.
  • Opposing a proposal to significantly change the administration of pollution control permits.
  • Advocating with elected and appointed officials for more comprehensive drought management.
  • Promoting state prioritization of adequate funding of key environmental agencies charged with administering and enforcing environmental laws.
  • Updating municipal bylaws and regulations to reduce polluted runoff from entering our River and streams.
  • Working with municipalities to pursue key climate adaptation projects that will protect Neponset River communities from the impacts of flooding, drought, and pollution via Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) Program planning workshops and action projects to advance those plans.

We don’t advocate for change for change’s sake. Effective rules are evidence-based (and allowed under relevant law and authority). New rules must also be feasible–there must be political will to prioritize them. And that’s where your partnership is crucial.

Elected officials respond to those who keep them in office. While we can provide subject-matter expertise, your voice is vital to persuade those with the power to make change happen.

The Neponset River Watershed encompasses a large swath of urban and suburban development and it’s important to make sure that we preserve as much undeveloped land as possible both for the environment and for people.

We work with our municipalities to support their enforcement of environmental regulations and work cooperatively with developers to negotiate proposals that are more climate resilient and protective of the environment.

Primary concerns about development include:

  • Impervious surfaces that contribute to polluted runoff. Projects should minimize or reduce existing impervious surfaces to allow more precipitation to naturally seep into the ground before it enters our waterways.
  • Proper stormwater management. Where impervious surfaces are unavoidable, developers should optimize treatment of stormwater to remove pollutants before they enter waterways.
  • Maximization of undisturbed open space within developments.
  • Restoration of nearby wetlands or other important resource areas.
  • Minimization of light pollution and resource use that disrupt natural rhythms and reduce a habitat’s ability to support wildlife.
  • Habitat destruction that increases the potential for negative interactions between wildlife and people, encourages invasive species growth, reduces recreational opportunities, and lowers community property values.
  • Changing natural landscapes, reducing protection from dangerous climate change impacts such as flooding and drought.

We prefer that development occur far from environmentally sensitive resource areas, or that previously developed areas be restored to a more natural state. We also recognize that as towns grow, we’ll see more development and changes in land use. It is our hope that the relationships we create with municipal officials and developers will lead to more conscientious projects that include climate-resilient features right from the design phase.

Take an active role in habitat protection and restoration.

  • Ensure environmental protection is part of your municipality’s master plan.
  • Review and amend zoning, planning, and environmental bylaws to reflect habitat conservation priorities (for example, encourage cluster development to maximize open space in subdivisions or increase no-disturb zones near sensitive areas).
  • Advocate for the adoption of the Community Preservation Act to help fund conservation projects.
  • Prioritize conservation, preservation, and restoration in municipal climate change preparations.
  • Let us know about construction and land development proposals of concern in your neighborhood.