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Water: Nutrients

Massachusetts Criteria Development Progress

Massachusetts State 

This page provides information about the progress Massachusetts has made towards the development of numeric criteria and shows what statewide and site-specific criteria are currently in effect.

Note: The information on the tabs below reflects the information available on EPA’s Water Quality Standards Repository. The criteria presented here will be updated as new water quality standards documents are posted to the Repository.


Numeric Criteria Development

The information presented below gives a summary of state progress towards the development of numeric criteria. The information comes from EPA’s “State Adoption of Numeric Nutrient Standards (1998-2008)” report, current water quality standards, program activity measures, and nutrient criteria development plans. Links to the Massachusetts’s Nutrient Criteria Plan and state water quality standards are also provided.


Existing Numeric Criteria

Waterbody Type N P Chl-a Clarity
Lakes & Reservoirs   W    
Rivers & Streams        
Estuaries W      
Wetlands        

S = Statewide    W = For selected waterbody    N ⁄ A=Not Applicable

Note: See Statewide Criteria and Site-specific Criteria tabs for more information.

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Plan:

WQS: Massachusetts Water Quality Standards
MassDEP: Water, Wastewater & Wetlands: Regulations & Standards Exit EPA Disclaimer

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Milestone Information

Milestone information updated May 2012.


Milestone
Rivers and Streams Lakes and Reservoirs Estuaries and Coastal Waters
TN TP TN TP TN TP
Planning for criteria development  Complete  Complete  Complete  Complete  Complete  Complete
Collection of information and data  Complete - 1/31/2012  Complete -1/31/12  Complete -1/31/12  Complete -1/31/12  *Note  *Note
Analysis of information and data  Complete - 2/29/12  Complete -2/29/12  Complete -2/29/12  Complete -2/29/12  *Note  *Note
Proposal of criteria  11/30/12  11/30/12  11/30/12  11/30/12  *Note  *Note
Adoption of criteria (EPA-Approved)  2/28/14  2/28/14  2/28/14  2/28/14  *Note  *Note

TN: Total Nitrogen; TP: Total Phosphorus

NOTE: For estuaries, Massachusetts does not plan to develop criteria for nitrogen and phosphorus due to limited resources. There is a TMDL in place that limits nitrogen loading to estuaries. Additionally, Massachusetts considers nitrogen as the limiting nutrient for estuaries; thus, there is no TMDL for phosphorus.

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Statewide Criteria

The information on this tab shows EPA-approved nutrient criteria for Massachusetts’s waterbodies. The language presented below comes directly from state water quality standards and applies to all waterbodies within the state (unless a waterbody type or designated use is noted). Criteria applicable to specific waterbodies within the state can be found on the “Site-specific Criteria” tab. For more information, refer to the Massachusetts water quality standards.

The following information reflects Massachusetts’ water quality standards posted to the Water Quality Standards Repository as of November 2010 (EPA-approved September 2007).

4.05: Classes and Criteria

(2) Criteria. Minimum criteria for each Class accompany each class description. Additional minimum criteria for all surface waters are listed in 314 CMR 4.05(5). Provided that all existing and designated uses are protected, the Department may establish site specific criteria as alternative minimum criteria. Such site specific numerical criteria shall supersede the otherwise applicable minimum numerical criteria in 314 CMR 4.00. Site specific numerical criteria also may supplement any of the narrative criteria in 314 CMR 4.00. Should the Department develop site specific numerical criteria for any pollutant that is the primary cause of nonattainment of any criteria in 314 CMR 4.00, the Department may determine that such site specific criteria supersede other criteria in 314 CMR 4.00. The Department may establish site specific criteria for a segment or segments of a water, for an entire water, or for a group of waters with similar physical, chemical or biological qualities. The Department may establish site specific hydrologic conditions at which criteria are applied. The Department will adopt any such site specific criteria as revisions to 314 CMR 4.00 in accordance with M.G.L. c. 30A.

Criteria for segments designated for partial use in 314 CMR 4.06 shall be site specific but, to the maximum extent feasible, shall be the same as the criteria assigned to the Class. For segments so designated because of the impacts of CSO or stormwater discharges, criteria may depart from the criteria assigned to the Class only to the extent necessary to accommodate the technology based treatment limitations of the CSO or stormwater discharges.

(3) Inland Water Classes.

(a) Class A. These waters include waters designated as a source of public water supply and their tributaries. They are designated as excellent habitat for fish, other aquatic life and wildlife, including for their reproduction, migration, growth and other critical functions, and for primary and secondary contact recreation, even if not allowed. These waters shall have excellent aesthetic value. These waters are protected as Outstanding Resource Waters.

6. Color and Turbidity. These waters shall be free from color and turbidity in concentrations or combinations that are aesthetically objectionable or would impair any use assigned to this class.

8. Taste and Odor. None other than of natural origin.

(b) Class B. These waters are designated as a habitat for fish, other aquatic life, and wildlife, including for their reproduction, migration, growth and other critical functions, and for primary and secondary contact recreation. Where designated in 314 CMR 4.06, they shall be suitable as a source of public water supply with appropriate treatment (“Treated Water Supply”). Class B waters shall be suitable for irrigation and other agricultural uses and for compatible industrial cooling and process uses. These waters shall have consistently good aesthetic value.

6. Color and Turbidity. These waters shall be free from color and turbidity in concentrations or combinations that are aesthetically objectionable or would impair any use assigned to this Class.

8. Taste and Odor. None in such concentrations or combinations that are aesthetically objectionable, that would impair any use assigned to this Class, or that would cause tainting or undesirable flavors in the edible portions of aquatic life.

(c) Class C. These waters are designated as a habitat for fish, other aquatic life and wildlife, including for their reproduction, migration, growth and other critical functions, and for secondary contact recreation. These waters shall be suitable for the irrigation of crops used for consumption after cooking and for compatible industrial cooling and process uses. These waters shall have good aesthetic value.

6. Color and Turbidity. These waters shall be free from color and turbidity in concentrations or combinations that are aesthetically objectionable or would impair any use assigned to this Class.

8. Taste and Odor. None in such concentrations or combinations that are aesthetically objectionable, that would impair any use assigned to this Class, or that would cause tainting or undesirable flavors in the edible portions of aquatic life.

(4) Coastal and Marine Classes

(a) Class SA. These waters are designated as an excellent habitat for fish, other aquatic life and wildlife, including for their reproduction, migration, growth and other critical functions, and for primary and secondary contact recreation. In certain waters, excellent habitat for fish, other aquatic life and wildlife may include, but is not limited to, seagrass. Where designated in the tables to 314 CMR 4.00 for shellfishing, these waters shall be suitable for shellfish harvesting without depuration (Approved and Conditionally Approved Shellfish Areas). These waters shall have excellent aesthetic value.

In the case of a water intake structure (IS) at a desalination facility, the Department has the authority under 33 U.S.C. § 1251 (FWPCA § 401), M.G.L. c. 21, §§ 26 through 53 and 314 CMR 3.00 to condition the IS to assure compliance of the withdrawal activity with 314 CMR 4.00, including, but not limited to, compliance with the narrative and numerical criteria and protection of existing and designated uses.

6. Color and Turbidity. These waters shall be free from color and turbidity in concentrations or combinations that are aesthetically objectionable or would impair any use assigned to this class.

8. Taste and Odor. None other than of natural origin.

(b) Class SB. These waters are designated as a habitat for fish, other aquatic life and wildlife, including for their reproduction, migration, growth and other critical functions, and for primary and secondary contact recreation. In certain waters, habitat for fish, other aquatic life and wildlife may include, but is not limited to, seagrass. Where designated in the tables to 314 CMR 4.00 for shellfishing, these waters shall be suitable for shellfish harvesting with depuration (Restricted and Conditionally Restricted Shellfish Areas). These waters shall have consistently good aesthetic value.

In the case of a water intake structure (IS) at a desalination facility, the Department has the authority under 33 U.S.C. § 1251 (FWPCA § 401), M.G.L. c. 21, §§ 26 through 53 and 314 CMR 3.00 to condition the IS to assure compliance of the withdrawal activity with 314 CMR 4.00, including, but not limited to, compliance with the narrative and numerical criteria and protection of existing and designated uses.

6. Color and Turbidity. These waters shall be free from color and turbidity in concentrations or combinations that are aesthetically objectionable or would impair any use assigned to this class.

8. Taste and Odor. None in such concentrations or combinations that are aesthetically objectionable, that would impair any use assigned to this class, or that would cause tainting or undesirable flavors in the edible portions of aquatic life.

(c) Class SC. These waters are designated as a habitat for fish, other aquatic life and wildlife, including for their reproduction, migration, growth and other critical functions, and for secondary contact recreation. They shall also be suitable for certain industrial cooling and process uses. These waters shall have good aesthetic value.

6. Color and Turbidity. These waters shall be free from color and turbidity in concentrations or combinations that are aesthetically objectionable or would impair any use assigned to this class.

8. Taste and Odor. None in such concentrations or combinations that are aesthetically objectionable, that would impair any use assigned to this Class, or that would cause tainting or undesirable flavors in the edible portions of aquatic life.

(5) Additional Minimum Criteria Applicable to all Surface Waters.

(a) Aesthetics. All surface waters shall be free from pollutants in concentrations or combinations that settle to form objectionable deposits; float as debris, scum or other matter to form nuisances; produce objectionable odor, color, taste or turbidity; or produce undesirable or nuisance species of aquatic life.

(c) Nutrients. Unless naturally occurring, all surface waters shall be free from nutrients in concentrations that would cause or contribute to impairment of existing or designated uses and shall not exceed the site specific criteria developed in a TMDL or as otherwise established by the Department pursuant to 314 CMR 4.00. Any existing point source discharge containing nutrients in concentrations that would cause or contribute to cultural eutrophication, including the excessive growth of aquatic plants or algae, in any surface water shall be provided with the most appropriate treatment as determined by the Department, including, where necessary, highest and best practical treatment (HBPT) for POTWs and BAT for non POTWs, to remove such nutrients to ensure protection of existing and designated uses. Human activities that result in the nonpoint source discharge of nutrients to any surface water may be required to be provided with cost effective and reasonable best management practices for nonpoint source control.

Site-specific Criteria

The information on this tab shows EPA-approved site-specific nutrient criteria for Massachusetts’s waterbodies. Criteria on this page apply only to the waterbodies listed below. Criteria applicable to all waterbodies within the state are found on the “Statewide Criteria” tab. For more information, refer to the Massachusetts water quality standards.

The following information reflects Massachusetts’ water quality standards posted to the Water Quality Standards Repository as of November 2010 (EPA-approved September 2007).

4.06: Basin Classification and Maps

Table 28
Site Specific Criteria
Basin/Drainage Area
& Waterbody
Boundary or Town Site Specific Criteria
Cape Cod Drainage Area
Stage Harbor System
Little Mill Pond   Chatham   Nitrogen 0.38 mg/L  
Mill Pond   Chatham   Nitrogen 0.38 mg/L  
Mitchell River   Chatham   Nitrogen 0.38 mg/L  
Oyster Pond   Chatham   Nitrogen 0.38 mg/L  
Oyster River   Chatham   Nitrogen 0.38 mg/L  
Stage Harbor   Chatham   Nitrogen 0.38 mg/L  
Sulphur Springs System  
Bucks Creek   Chatham   Nitrogen 0.38 mg/L  
Cockle Cove Creek   Chatham   Nitrogen 0.38 mg/L  
Sulphur Springs   Chatham   Nitrogen 0.38 mg/L  
Taylors Pond System
Mill Creek   Chatham   Nitrogen 0.38 mg/L  
Taylors Pond   Chatham   Nitrogen 0.38 mg/L  
Bassing Harbor System
Bassing Harbor   Chatham   Nitrogen 0.527-0.552 mg/L*  
Crows Pond   Chatham   Nitrogen 0.527-0.552 mg/L*  
Frost Fish Creek   Chatham   Nitrogen 0.527-0.552 mg/L*  
Ryder Cove   Chatham   Nitrogen 0.527-0.552 mg/L*  
Muddy Creek System
Lower Muddy Creek   Chatham   Nitrogen 0.552 mg/L  
Upper Muddy Creek   Chatham   Nitrogen 0.552 mg/L  

*The nitrogen criteria for the Bassing Harbor System are interim criteria unless, based on its assessment of Pleasant Bay, the Department determines that the nitrogen criteria for the Bassing Harbor system should remain in effect.


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