Policy and Procedure for Mechanized Wetlands Management

Proposed: January 1st, 2002

Revised: 08/11/04, 02/23/05, 11/08/05, 01/12/06, 01/07/09, 02/26/09, 01/07/2011, 09/2013, 1/2015, 1/2016, 1/2017

Although Mosquito Control Districts are considered state agencies, they are unique in the fact that they are directly accountable to member municipalities. As such, the needs and concerns of participating communities drive operational policy and strategies. For several years now our program has been in transition from what once was considered a primarily nuisance mosquito control program, to a primarily public health based program. Transmission and transplantation of world-wide mosquito-borne viruses to the United States is on the increase. West Nile virus (WNV) is now endemic to northeast Massachusetts and since 2004, Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus (EEEV) has a presence here as well. In response, the District has enhanced its Adult Mosquito Surveillance Program. Warmer weather trends have also contributed to an increase in significant virus activity well into the fall ultimately resulting in extending control operations by about two months annually. The extent of the District’s Wetland Management Program capacity has also been restricted by ever tightening regulations for operating in aquatic habitats. This problem is further compounded by an increase in site complexity as aging infrastructure, lack of maintenance and decreased funding for DPWs contribute to long term neglect of drainage statewide. Increased demands on the District’s resources have severely limited the District’s availability and ability to conduct mechanized and manual wetlands management, i.e. ditch maintenance, as well as the ability of the District to fund these operations through standard member municipality annual assessment. Water management expenses have increased considerably; purchases of specialty equipment and associated maintenance and fuel costs fluctuate dramatically.

Site Specific Appropriation
In some cases, the District may propose mechanized wetland management projects that necessitate a request for member municipality funding by means of separate and additional appropriation. Though the District understands that this may be a burden to some communities, project solutions will be proposed which consider as many non-funded activities as possible. In order to ensure equal opportunity for each member municipality projects of this type will be considered by the following petition process only.

The District operates under the authority of Chapter 252 of the General Laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. To be consistent with the provisions of Chapter 252 and because of reasons described above, wetlands management projects by means of specialized low ground pressure equipment will be considered by site specific petition only. A petition is simply a brief written request from a municipality’s Petitioning Body requesting District investigation into a site specific ditch maintenance project or particular location. Municipalities may submit more than one petition at a time but will be asked to prioritize their top choice. Once the prioritized petition project is completed the District will reconvene with the petitioning body to verify the next priority petition project.

Petitioning Body
In an effort to avoid confusion municipalities should consider designating a petitioning body. In the event a municipality wishes to change their designated petitioning body they may do so once annually. Changes should be made at the time of the annual review of each municipality's Best Management Practice Plan (BMP), usually around the end of March or first of April. The District suggests that the local Board of Health, (BOH) is the most appropriate designee. In the event a municipality does not designate a Petitioning Body, the District will default to the BOH as the Petitioning Body.

Wetlands Management Proposal
Once a petition is received by the District a site number will be issued and we will begin an evaluation process. The District will make recommendations to the Petitioning Body regarding wetlands management strategies for the petitioned site. If necessary, the District will develop a site specific proposal outlining the proposed project including a site description, site history, scope of services and a “not to exceed” projected cost for implementing said project if applicable. The proposal will be submitted to the Petitioning Body for distribution to other appropriate municipal authorities for review, comments and approval indicating the acceptance of the terms and conditions of said project as put forth in the Proposal before implementation of any such project will commence. All wetland management projects will be conducted in accordance with Massachusetts General Law Chapter 252, established federal guidelines and in coordination with local Conservation Commission and municipal officials.