Friday, September 18, 2020

Happy Rosh Hashanah

Chag Samayach 

A wish for the New Year to my Jewish friends, constituents and the community. May this New Year be sweet, healthy and happy. 

L’shanah Tovah and always… Shalom!




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Baker-Polito Administration Awards $4 Million to Improve Coastal Resilience

The Baker-Polito Administration announced $4 million in grant funding to support local and regional efforts to proactively plan for and reduce coastal storm and climate change impacts, including storm surge, flooding, erosion, and sea level rise. The grants, funded by the Office of Coastal Zone Management’s (CZM) Coastal Resilience Grant program, were awarded to municipalities and nonprofits pursuing projects across the Commonwealth. 

The grants were announced by state and local officials as part of the Baker-Polito Administration’s celebration of Climate Week in the Commonwealth. “Massachusetts’ coastal communities coast face increasing damages from increasingly severe storms, sea level rise and erosion,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “As we celebrate Climate Week in Massachusetts, we’re proud to support local efforts to protect residents, businesses and infrastructure from climate change impacts.”

“Massachusetts’ coastal communities are making climate adaptation a local priority and reality,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “Through these grants, cities, towns, and nonprofits gain financial and technical assistance to explore options to manage flooding and erosion, enhance the natural environment, and support other public benefits like recreation along the coast.”

Including the grants announced, the Baker-Polito Administration has now invested $18.9 million in 107 coastal resilience improvement projects through the Coastal Resilience Grant Program since 2015.

“With these funds, our Administration is proud to support the continued leadership and commitment at the local level to making progress year after year toward a more climate resilient future,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides. “These projects provide many benefits to the residents and businesses in coastal communities, and demonstrate the value of investing in resilient solutions for a changing climate.”

CZM’s Coastal Resilience Grant Program provides financial and staff support for local efforts to analyze vulnerabilities to climate impacts, increase community awareness and understanding of these issues, plan for changing conditions, redesign vulnerable community facilities and infrastructure, and restore shorelines. Grants may fund feasibility assessments, public outreach, design, permitting, construction, and monitoring of projects that enhance or create natural buffers to erosion and flooding.

“Effective resilience means planning, investing and acting now,” said State Senator Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester). “These grants join together local vision and state resources to get projects done that will respond to significant vulnerabilities in a meaningful way.”

“We need to take substantive steps now to mitigate the impacts of climate change on the North Shore, the Commonwealth, and our nation,” said State Senator Joan B. Lovely (D-Salem). “I appreciate these badly needed grants that will buttress the beautiful coastlines of Beverly and Salem that help to drive the economies and quality of lives that people in both cities enjoy.”

“I want to thank the Baker-Polito Administration for understanding and addressing the unique challenges our coastal communities face,” said State Representative Brad Hill (R-Ipswich). “I’m proud to see Ipswich taking the lead by protecting our vulnerable coastline and riverine areas.”

Beverly-
Feasibility Assessment and Conceptual Designs for Green Infrastructure and Resilience Improvements at Obear Park - $58,340

The City of Beverly will assess feasibility and develop conceptual designs for nature-based improvements at Obear Park, a coastal park along the Danvers River, to withstand impacts from flooding, erosion, and sea level rise. The study will investigate potential living shoreline techniques, culvert alterations, and relocation and retrofits to existing park facilities.

Vulnerability Assessment and Feasibility Study for the Beverly Pump Station on Water Street - $135,445

The City of Beverly will conduct a vulnerability and feasibility assessment of the Beverly Pump Station on Water Street, a sanitary sewerage facility serving Beverly, Danvers and other entities. The analysis will evaluate alternatives to address both short- and long-term risks of flooding and sea level rise.

Essex-
Elevation of Apple Street Roadbed for Alternate Transportation Route - $27,282

The Town of Essex will develop design plans for elevating a low-lying section of Apple Street, which is vulnerable to flooding during coastal storm events. Apple Street provides an alternate north-south transportation link in Essex when the primary route, the Essex Causeway (Route 133), is flooded during storms.

Essex County Greenbelt Association-
Essex County Coastal Resiliency Outreach and Planning Project - $41,312

Essex County Greenbelt Association will assess infrastructure improvements and management options and produce a Climate Adaptation Management Plan for their headquarters at the Cox Reservation, which is vulnerable to coastal storm flooding and sea level rise. Greenbelt will also host a free film and lecture series for the public on coastal resiliency and climate change.

Ipswich-
Ipswich River Coastal Resiliency and Bank Stabilization Project: Phase 3 - $39,860

The Town of Ipswich and its partner, Ipswich River Watershed Association, will finalize design plans for stabilizing an eroded section of coastal bank along the Ipswich River, located near the County Street Bridge and along a well-traveled trail adjacent to the river, in downtown Ipswich. The project team will also develop plans for stormwater management improvements, acquire necessary permits, and prepare bid-ready plans and specifications for future construction.

Building Climate Resilience through Adaptation at the Crane Estate, Argilla Road Adaptation Phase 3 - $85,000

The Town of Ipswich, in partnership with The Trustees of Reservations, will continue to advance design plans and permitting for elevating a vulnerable portion of Argilla Road that crosses a salt marsh and stabilizing the side slopes of the roadway using nature-based techniques.

Salem-
Coastal Resilience at Collins Cove, Monitoring and Maintenance of the Restored Salt Marsh - $62,825

This year’s Climate Week marks four years since Governor Baker signed Executive Order 569 which lays out a comprehensive approach to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions, safeguard residents, municipalities and businesses from the impacts of climate change, and build a more resilient Commonwealth. More recently, the Administration has committed to investing $1 billion in climate resiliency by 2022 and achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.The Commonwealth is working to determine how best to achieve this emissions limit through its 2050 Roadmap, a nation-leading quantitative and qualitative planning effort that will chart multiple technical and policy pathways by which the Commonwealth can equitably and cost-effectively achieve net zero emissions by 2050, and will conclude with the publication of a long-range 2050 Roadmap report. Additionally, the Administration is working with municipalities throughout the Commonwealth to prepare for the impacts of climate change through the nation-leading Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) Program, which has now enrolled 89 percent of cities and towns.

“CZM is excited to continue working collaboratively with our local community and nonprofit partners to identify climate vulnerabilities, raise public awareness, and advance shoreline management efforts,” said CZM Director Lisa Berry Engler. “We look forward to another successful round of projects that contribute to a more resilient coast.”

The Massachusetts Office Coastal Zone Management is the lead policy and planning agency on coastal and ocean issues within the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. Through planning, technical and grant assistance and public information programs, CZM seeks to balance the impacts of human activity with the protection of coastal and marine resources. The agency’s work includes helping coastal communities address the challenges of storms, sea level rise and other effects of climate change; working with state, regional and federal partners to balance current and new uses of ocean waters while protecting ocean habitats and promoting sustainable economic development; and partnering with communities and other organizations to protect and restore coastal water quality and habitats.



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Massachusetts RMV Renews Over 163,000 Licenses & IDs Online During REAL ID Promotion

Customers who renew a Standard license or ID online will have $25 REAL ID upgrade fee waived upon a future return visit to a Service Center in 2021 

Renewal transactions can be conducted at Mass.Gov/RMV; Promotion remains in effect until the State of Emergency is lifted

The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) continues to encourage all eligible customers to renew their Standard Massachusetts driver’s license or Massachusetts ID card online at Mass.Gov/RMV in order to qualify for a free upgrade to a REAL ID credential in 2021. This promotional opportunity, authorized and extended by Executive Order, will remain in effect until Massachusetts’ State of Emergency is lifted to provide customers more time and flexibility to conduct transactions and to support the RMV’s ongoing efforts to implement social distancing protocols while limiting in-person service center visits to keep customers and staff safe.

Customers are eligible to renew online and take advantage of this offer up to one year in advance of the expiration date printed on their license or ID, or up to two years after the expiration date. Customers will not be able to seek their free REAL ID upgrade until at least six (6) months after the State of Emergency is lifted. The RMV continues to see a dramatic increase of online renewals by customers during the pandemic and this promotional opportunity period. More than 163,000 online renewals were completed since promotion began June 12th, compared to just 49,600 over the same time period in 2019.In August 2020, there were over 62,000 online credential renewals, compared to just 15,739in August 2019. The RMV has bolstered back office support efforts to accommodate this continuing increased demand.

Beginning in mid-August, limited in-person license renewal appointments became available in Service Centers for customers. The RMV suspended those in-person transactions due to the pandemic and applied multiple extensions to expiring licenses and IDs as outlined below. The RMV asks that those who can renew online please do so and preserve these limited appointments for those individuals with credentials expiring in September 2020 who cannot, especially if their license or ID currently benefits from an extension.

Qualifying customers who complete their renewal online and wish to upgrade to a REAL ID for free will have to wait until at least six (6) months after Massachusetts’ State of Emergency is lifted to visit an RMV Service Center. Customers currently do not need a federally compliant REAL ID for the purposes of boarding domestic flights prior to October 1, 2021, as the federal government delayed the compliance effective date by one year. The fee for renewing a non-commercial standard or REAL ID license is $50, while the fee for upgrading to a standard or REAL ID card is $25. The typical $25 upgrade / amendment fee will be waived under these qualifying circumstances.

Obtaining an initial federally compliant REAL ID requires customers to visit a Service Center in-person to present verifying documents. The RMV introduced this initiative and fee waiver pursuant to Executive Order 39 which was issued by Governor Baker on June 12, 2020, and was subsequently extended through Executive Order 47 on August 11, 2020, in light of the COVID-19 public health emergency to encourage social distancing and limit unnecessary travel by reducing the need for many customers to visit a Service Center. This also allows for the prioritization of essential in-person transactions, which remain by appointment only. Customers should take the following steps to determine their online renewal eligibility and qualify for this offer:
● Visit Mass.Gov/RMV, login to their “myRMV” account, and find out if they are permitted to renew online.
● Renew online – their new standard license or ID card will be sent via U.S. mail.
● The cost for renewing a driver’s license is $50. The cost for renewing an ID card is $25. These costs are the same for both a standard or REAL ID license or ID card. The cost for upgrading or amending a license or ID card outside of their renewal cycle is $25, which will be waived for participating, eligible RMV customers.
● Customers who renew online will have to wait until at least six (6) months after Massachusetts’ State of Emergency is lifted to make an appointment for a REAL ID and have their $25 upgrade / amendment fee waived. Anyone who holds a valid U.S. passport
or other federally-compliant form of identification may never need an RMV-issued REAL ID.
● As a service to its members, AAA continues to issue REAL ID credentials for their members only and members should make an appointment before visiting a AAA location.
● Limited in-person license renewal reservation appointments are available in RMV Service Centers for customers. The RMV asks that those who can renew online please do so, especially if their license or ID currently benefits from an extension, thus preserving these appointments for those individuals with credentials expiring in September 2020 who cannot renew online.

While the RMV has previously announced the below automatic extensions to certain expiring licenses and ID cards, all eligible customers are encouraged to take advantage of this offer by renewing online up to one year prior to their expiration date:
● Driver’s licenses and ID cards that expired or were set to expire in March, April, and May 2020 have been extended until September 2020.
● Driver’s licenses and ID cards that expired or were set to expire in June have been extended until October 2020.
● Driver’s licenses and ID cards that expired or were set to expire in July have been extended until November 2020.
● Driver’s licenses and ID cards that will expire in August have been extended until December 2020.


All RMV customers are encouraged to visit the RMV Online Service Center or www.Mass.Gov/RMV to renew their license or ID card, and complete one of over 40 other transactions available online, by mail, or by phone.

For details on these and other credential expiration date extensions and additional information on RMV service offerings during the COVID-19 pandemic, please visit www.mass.gov/rmv or https://www.mass.gov/info-details/rmv-covid-19-information.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Massachusetts Announces Extension of Administrative Tax Relief for Local Businesses

Governor Charlie Baker, Lt. Governor Karyn Polito, Senate President Karen Spilka and House Speaker Robert DeLeo today announced an extension of administrative tax relief measures for local businesses that have been impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, especially in the restaurant and hospitality sectors. 

This includes the extension of the deferral of regular sales tax, meals tax, and room occupancy taxes for small businesses due from March 2020 through April 2021, so that they will instead be due in May 2021. Businesses that collected less than $150,000 in regular sales plus meals taxes in the twelve month period ending February 29, 2020 will be eligible for relief for sales and meals taxes, and businesses that collected less than $150,000 in room occupancy taxes in the twelve month period ending February 29, 2020 will be eligible for relief with respect to room occupancy taxes. For these small businesses, no penalties or interest will accrue during this extension period.

“Our Administration is committed to supporting local businesses and Main Street economies recovering from the impact of COVID-19, and we’re glad to work with our legislative colleagues on this additional measure to provide administrative tax relief,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Extending the tax relief measures we put into place earlier this year will help support companies across Massachusetts including small businesses in the restaurant and hospitality industries.”

“Providing this tax relief is an important step to support local businesses throughout Massachusetts and we are glad to work with our legislative colleagues on this important issue,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “This extension allows certain local companies to defer remitting regular sales tax, meals tax, and room occupancy taxes, an important tax relief measure for businesses that have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

For businesses with meals tax and room occupancy tax obligations that do not otherwise qualify for this relief, late-file and late-pay penalties will be waived during this period.

“The Senate is committed to further assisting our restaurant and hospitality industries hit hard by COVID-19,” said Senate President Karen E. Spilka. “As we continue to safely reopen and recover, we will work with our partners in the Administration and the House to mitigate the economic distress felt by local businesses brought on by the unprecedented public health crisis.”

“As the COVID-19 outbreak continues to affect our economy, the House is proud of its ongoing efforts to reinforce restaurants, such as its passage of a restaurant recovery package thanks to the work of Chair Michlewitz and the membership,” said House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo. “We support the deferral of tax collections as it will provide a clear business pathway, especially to our restaurant and hospitality industries.”

The Department of Revenue will issue emergency regulations and a Technical Information Release to implement these administrative relief measures.

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Monday, September 14, 2020

Baker‐Polito Administration Awards Funds to Municipalities for Improvements to Road-Stream Crossings

Ipswich Awarded Funds For Culvert Upgrades 

The Baker‐Polito Administration today announced $806,880 in grants to support culvert replacement projects that improve municipal roads and river health in communities across the Commonwealth. Provided by the Department of Fish and Game’s Division of Ecological Restoration (DER), the grants support projects that strengthen community preparedness for large storms, protect fisheries, wildlife, and river habitats, and promote smart investments in climate-ready infrastructure.

“As climate change brings fiercer storms and increased rainfall to the Commonwealth, the safety issues surrounding undersized culverts become more urgent and apparent,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Replacing this aging infrastructure is critical to ensure the resilience of our communities and natural resources, and the availability of resources like this report and these grant awards is vital for driving this important work forward.”

“These granted projects represent the culmination of hard and thoughtful work and collaboration between local and state officials to transform ecologically vulnerable spaces into well-engineered infrastructure that supports people and the environment,” said Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester). “Through a culvert replacement, Ipswich will maintain a critical roadway for public safety and emergency access and safe passage for important species of wildlife.”

The town of Ipswich received $48,500 to conduct final design and engineering as well as permitting for a culvert replacement. Upgrading the culvert will improve the reliability of the road, which serves as an emergency access to Route 1, western sections of the town, and nearby hospitals. The upgrade will also allow brook trout access to coldwater streams, which is particularly important as the climate warms and stream temperature increases.

DER’s Culvert Replacement Municipal Assistance Grant Program helps municipalities replace undersized and deteriorating culverts with crossings that meet improved design standards for fish and wildlife passage, river health, and storm resiliency. The grants also help municipalities deal with the ever-pressing cost of aging road infrastructure.

“Failing and undersized culverts can negatively impact communities in many ways, from causing flooding or road failures during storms, to preventing wildlife from accessing necessary habitat,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides. “This culvert replacement report and these newly-funded projects address these issues, allowing waterways to return to a more natural state and increasing resilience to climate change.”

“Culverts play a vital role in protecting roadways, safeguarding wildlife and river habitats and redirecting waterways that could impact homes and businesses,” said Transportation Secretary and CEO Secretary Stephanie Pollack. “The report’s recommendations will serve as a valuable path forward for local and state planners and the grant money gives cities and towns the ability to undertake field data collection, design and engineering work, and other steps in an effort to strengthen municipal preparedness.”

Nearly half of Massachusetts’ estimated 25,000 small bridges and culverts act as barriers to fish and wildlife because they are undersized or poorly positioned. Undersized culverts can also present a serious risk to public safety. As high intensity rainfall becomes more frequent and severe due to climate change, culvert bottlenecks can cause flood waters to overtop roads, resulting in washouts and road closures. Installing culverts that meet the Massachusetts Stream Crossing Standards allows rivers to flow unrestricted and with a lower risk of flood damage.

The Administration also announced the release of a report titled, “Recommendations for Improving the Efficiency of Culvert and Small Bridge Replacement Projects,” prepared by the Massachusetts Culverts and Small Bridges Working Group. This report highlights the safety and environmental challenges presented by over 25,000 road stream crossings across the state and the need for funding and technical assistance for municipalities and partners to address these issues. It also provides recommendations to address the barriers faced by municipalities to implement this work.

The Massachusetts Culverts and Small Bridges Working Group was charged with providing a report to the Massachusetts Legislature with recommendations to replace culverts and small bridges more quickly and cost efficiently with climate resilient structures that withstand storms, improve public safety, and protect and restore natural resources.

Key recommendations of the report include expanding and improving existing state technical assistance and training programs, developing an interagency program to help municipalities navigate the process of culvert and bridge replacement, and providing additional grant funds to municipalities for culvert and bridge replacement projects. The report also recommends revisions to engineering standards, including helpful resources such as standard culvert and small bridge design templates to reduce design and construction costs and streamline permitting and structural review.



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Friday, September 11, 2020

Remembering September 11, 2001

Images from this morning's moving ceremony in Gloucester to honor all the victims of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. My hope is that we will all take a few moments to remember not only those lost on that infamous day but also the many military and civilian personnel who continue to protect our great nation from terrorism and making strides in advancing the ideals of democracy.

 



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Thursday, September 10, 2020

Hunger Action Day

Thanks for all the great work of the staff and volunteers of The Open Door for launching #HungerActionDay. This is a day to raise awareness of hunger nationwide and in our own community. I encourage you to connect with the Open Door and learn more about Hunger Action Month. 

You can help raise awareness of hunger in the community by participating in The Open Door community-wide Drive-Thru Food Drive on Saturday, September 12, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.




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Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles Schedules 2020 Low Plate Lottery Drawing for Monday, September 14, at 9:30 a.m.

Drawing for 100 available plates to be livestreamed on Mass.Gov 

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) announced today that the Registry of Motor Vehicles will hold the 2020 Low Plate Lottery drawing on September 14, 2020, during a virtual event which will begin at 9:30 a.m. The drawing will be livestreamed on Mass.Gov at https://livestream.com/accounts/20617794/events/9296002.

This year, nearly 12,000 low number plate lottery applications were received for 100 available, eligible plates, including 6P, 751, V35, K5, 2042 and T31. Lottery results, including the names of winners, will be posted on Mass.Gov/RMV by the close of business on Tuesday, September 15, and customers selected for a low number plate will be directly notified via mail after the drawing takes place with instructions on how to register their new plate.

Entries for the 2020 lottery were required to be submitted online by September 6, 2020, to be eligible for the drawing. While there was no cost to apply to the lottery, if an applicant is selected as a winner, there is a fee to receive the license plate and there is a standard registration fee. Low number plates must be renewed every two years. 

Lottery Rules and Eligibility Requirements Only one entry per applicant will be accepted, regardless of the number of active registrations the applicant has. An applicant must be a Massachusetts resident with a currently active, registered, and insured passenger vehicle. Companies/corporations may not apply.

MassDOT (Registry of Motor Vehicles, Highway, Mass Transit, and Aeronautics) employees, including contract employees, and their immediate family members are not eligible. (“Immediate family member” refers to one’s parents, spouse, children, and brothers & sisters.)

Requests for specific plate numbers will not be honored. Eligible applicants will be considered for all plates listed. Plates will be awarded in the order in which they are listed on Mass.Gov/RMV. An applicant’s registration and license cannot be in a non-renewal, suspended, or revoked status at the time of entry, the time of the drawing, or the time of the plate swap. As such, an applicant must not have any outstanding excise taxes, parking tickets, child support, warrants, or unpaid E-ZPass/ Fast Lane violations. By law, lottery winners must be announced by September 15, 2020. Lottery results will be available on the RMV website: Mass.Gov/RMV

All winners will be notified by the RMV in writing with instructions on how to transfer their current registration to their new lottery plate. Winners will have until December 31, 2020 to swap their plates. Unclaimed plates will be forfeited after December 31st. Plates will be registered to the winning applicant only.

All plates remain the property of the RMV even after registration. All information received, including names of all applicants and the list of winners, is subject to release in accordance with the Massachusetts Public Records law.

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Massachusetts Disburses Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) Benefits to Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Claimants and Standard Unemployment Insurance Claimants-Additional 2 Weeks of LWA Benefits Approved by FEMA

The Commonwealth’s application to receive grant funding to pay a limited additional weekly unemployment benefit to claimants under the federal Lost Wages Supplemental Payment Assistance (LWA) program for the 6 weeks ending 8/1/20, 8/8/20, 8/15/20, 8/22/20, 8/29/20, 9/5/20 has been approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The applications were submitted by the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA), in coordination with the Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA). 

Eligible Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) claimants had already received the first three weeks of LWA payments and the additional 2 weeks of benefits will be processed beginning Wednesday, September 9th. Disbursements to eligible standard Unemployment Insurance (UI) beneficiaries for the full six weeks of additional LWA benefits will begin on Thursday, September 10th and payments are expected to be in claimants bank accounts by Tuesday, September 15th. 

Per FEMA’s authorization, the grant will fund an additional $300 weekly payment to those who are eligible for at least $100 in weekly unemployment benefits for the five weeks The Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance continues to work on the technology and business requirements necessary for this program and anticipates being able to quickly deliver retroactive funds to all eligible claimants in the coming weeks. Most eligible claimants currently receiving benefits do not need to take any action because the Commonwealth will automatically add LWA to their weekly benefit payment retroactive to the dates specified in the grant.

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Friday, September 4, 2020

Baker-Polito Administration Announces Start of FY2021 Community Compact Cabinet IT Grant Program

The Baker-Polito Administration announced the opening of the sixth year of the Community Compact IT Grant Program which will provide a total of $3 million in grants for municipal and school district projects designed to modernize and improve technology systems. The Community Compact IT program will be accepting applications from September 15, through October 15, and will provide each municipal recipient up to $200,000 in funding. 

Since its inception, the Community Compact IT Grant Program has awarded 240 grants totaling $12 million to municipalities and school districts to invest in transformative technology infrastructure and critical equipment. 

 “Our Administration remains committed to supporting cities and towns and modernizing and securing the Commonwealth’s technological resources,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “We continue to work closely with our partners in the legislature and in local government to improve technology systems, a need that is even more apparent due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.”

“The Community Compact IT Grant Program continues to help meet communities’ technology needs and bolster technological capabilities,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “As the Chair of the Community Compact Cabinet, I am proud of the work we have done so far and look forward to another year of important projects.”

COVID-19 has greatly impacted how Commonwealth residents interact with municipalities and utilize technology services. These Community Compact IT grants will be allocated to Commonwealth cities, towns, and school districts to aid in one-time capital improvements such as technology infrastructure, upgrades, or equipment purchases. This includes records management and e-permitting systems, implementing new cybersecurity measures, and improvements to public safety systems.

“Community Compact IT grants provide important opportunities for local governments to engage in projects that may otherwise be cost-prohibitive,” said Secretary of Administration and Finance Michael J. Heffernan. “We appreciate the support of the Legislature and municipal partners across the Commonwealth as we continue to improve the delivery of essential technology services for Massachusetts residents.”

"We believe that making smart investments to modernize and secure technology assets at both the state and local level is a key component in creating a resilient and responsive government for the Commonwealth's residents and businesses," said Secretary of Technology Services and Security Curtis M. Wood. "The Community Compact IT Grant Program has funded many critical municipal IT projects to date, and we look forward to the continued dialogue with our partners in municipal government."

Formed in January 2015, the Community Compact Cabinet is chaired by Lt. Governor Polito and is composed of the secretaries of Housing & Economic Development, Education, Transportation, Energy & Environmental Affairs, and Technology Services and Security, and the Senior Deputy Commissioner of Local Services and the Assistant Secretary of Operational Services. The Community Compact Cabinet elevates the Administration’s partnerships with cities and towns and allows the Governor’s Office to work more closely with leaders from all municipalities.

The Cabinet champions municipal interests across all executive secretariats and agencies, and develops, in consultation with cities and towns, mutual standards and best practices for both the state and municipalities.

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Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Thank you to all the citizens who participated in the primary process which concluded 24 hours ago. The candidates whose names were on the ballots faced unique challenges in connecting with, and listening to, the voters during this pandemic. 

Our democracy works best when citizens are actively involved. As a resident there are lots of ways to participate in local, state, and federal elections, one fundamental way is by voting. In Massachusetts, we have created multiple ways for you to be able to register to vote -

Registering Online:
You must have a signature on file with the Registry of Motor Vehicles. If you currently have a Massachusetts driver's license or state ID card, you may use the online voter registration application to register, update your address, or change your party affiliation.

Registering by Mail:
You may download the voter registration form by using the link provided at the end of this post.

Registering In-person:
You may register at any local election office, the Registry of Motor Vehicles and at certain public assistance agencies.

Automatic Voter Registration:
If you are a U.S. citizen applying for or renewing a driver's license or state ID at the RMV, or applying for health insurance through MassHealth or the Commonwealth Health Connector, you will be automatically registered.

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Monday, August 31, 2020

Primary Election Day Is Tomorrow

From 7 AM to 8 PM all registered voters, who have not yet voted, may cast a ballot tomorrow. This election takes place in all 351 cities and towns in the Commonwealth and determines the nominated office seekers who will be on the general election ballot in November. 

If you are registered to a particular party, you will receive that party's ballot at the poll. If you are an 'independent', someone not enrolled in a party, you can choose which party primary you wish to vote in. Printed sample ballots with the names of all candidates will be on display and available for your review before you are asked to check-in. Those candidates who 'top the ticket' will advance to the November election ballot. 

You are a vital link in our democracy and your participation in your government is always welcome. To find your official polling place check -www.WhereDoIVoteMA.com

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Returning to School Safely, Together

With the re-opening of schools in two weeks, many parents and students have questions about the new school year. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has prepared a Website to help address these questions. I would like you to have easy access which you can find at http://www.doe.mass.edu/backtoschool/.

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Friday, August 28, 2020

“Call to Colors” A Celebration of The American Flag at the Cape Ann Museum Green

This morning I had the privilege of joining a ceremony to honor our past and present veterans. Cape Ann Museum Director Oliver Barker invited me and others to attend this event next to the Babson-Alling House in an open field at CAM Green. 

The museum is building a new campus on Washington and Poplar Streets in Gloucester - they have three historic buildings and one incredible new building that will provide storage for its collection as well as exhibit and performance space. The Museum board decided to erect a flag pole at one of the focal points of the property, in a location also highly visible from the Grant Circle Rotary, on Rt 128 as you enter the city.

Adam Curcuru, Director of Cape Ann Veterans Services, a former Marine Lance Corporal and Purple Heart recipient who served in Afghanistan, shared his thoughts on the meaning of the American Flag. Adam was accompanied by his assistant and Veterans Benefits Coordinator, Violette Chipperini, a former Sergeant in the US Army and a Purple Heart recipient, wounded in Iraq.

Charlie and Coco Esdaile, Theo and Cecilia Barker, and Ryan Johnston, grandson of Nina and Stephen Goodick, assisted by Adam, and their parents/grandparents, raised the Flag.

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Sales Tax Holiday

For many years, I authored and filed bills to make an annual sales tax holiday a permanent and reliable component of our calendar. Last legislative session those efforts came to fruition when the House and Senate adopted legislation to do just that.

You can access this sales-tax-free holiday this weekend - August 29th and 30th. The sales tax holiday allows shoppers to forgo paying the tax on most items, excluding food and drinks at restaurants, on purchases that cost less than $2,500. It is s a limited but effective way to give families some modest relief while also supporting local employers and businesses.



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Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Happy to announce today that the Seaport Economic Council awarded the Fishing Partnership, a non-profit organization dedicated to improvements in the health, safety and economic security of commercial fishermen and their families, a substantial state grant for their continued work.
You don't have to live in a coastal community to know that commercial fishermen are continuing to work hard to harvest and deliver nutritious food throughout this time of pandemic. They are truly essential workers.

Founded in 1997, the Fishing Partnership works to provide critical support services and programs to more than 20,000 New England fishing families. The Seaport Economic Council is state-created capital grant program that supports working waterfronts, local tourism, coastal resiliency, and maritime innovation in all 78 coastal communities.



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Dr. Carl Soderland of Lahey Health Retirement

Recently, I had the pleasrre to present an official Massachusetts Senate Citation to Dr. Carl Soderland of Lahey Health Ipswich in recognition of his more than four decades of practicing medicine. Governor Charles Baker and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito asked me to convey a formal recognition from them to Dr. Soderland as well. After caring for generations of families he is entering retirement.

Present in the pictures are Dr. Soderland, Julie Aubrey, Anne Kako, and Valerie Waldrop,




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Massachusetts Approved For Lost Wages Assistance Grant


Commonwealth Receiving 3 Weeks of Federal FEMA Funds To Pay Additional $300 Unemployment Benefits

Massachusetts’ application to receive grant funding to pay an additional weekly unemployment benefit to claimants under the federal Lost Wages Supplemental Payment Assistance (LWA) program has been approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The application was submitted late last week by the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA), in coordination with the Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA).

Per FEMA’s authorization, the grant will fund an additional $300 weekly payment to those who are eligible for the three weeks ending 8/1/20, 8/8/20, and 8/15/20. The Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance has already begun work on the technology requirements necessary for this program and anticipates being able to quickly deliver retroactive funds to eligible claimants for those weeks by Sept. 15. Eligible claimants currently receiving benefits do not need to take any action because the Commonwealth will automatically add LWA to their weekly benefit payment retroactive to the dates they are eligible.

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Today, Governor Charlie Baker and Lt. Governor Karyn Polito will visit WheelWorks in Belmont to make an announcement relative to helping small businesses recover from the economic impacts of COVID-19. A live stream of the Governor's briefing will be available at my Facebook page around noon www.facebook.com/SenatorBruceTarr.   

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Friday, August 21, 2020

MassDOT Advisory: North Andover, August 24


Overnight Paving Operations on Chickering Road (Route 125/133)

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) is announcing that it will be conducting overnight paving operations on Chickering Road between Baystate Road and Farrwood Avenue in North Andover. The work is scheduled to begin at 9:00 p.m., on Monday, August 24, and will continue through to 5:00 a.m. on Tuesday, August 25.

In order to allow crews and contractors to safely and effectively conduct operations, traffic impacts including lane closures and alternating one-way traffic will be necessary at times.

For more information on traffic conditions travelers are encouraged to: Dial 511 and select a route to hear real-time conditions
Visit www.mass511.com, a website which provides real-time traffic and incident advisory information, and allows users to subscribe to text and email alerts for traffic conditions.
Follow MassDOT on Twitter @MassDOT to receive regular updates on road and traffic conditions
Download MassDOT’s GoTime mobile app and view real-time traffic conditions before setting out on the road.

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Thursday, August 20, 2020

"The State of the Coast"

This morning I will be at Castle Hill on the Crane Estate with The Trustees, Katie Theoharides, Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs, Representative Brad Hill, Ipswich town officials and others to announce a comprehensive new report "The State of the Coast" which examines 13 North of Boston coastal communities and efforts to protect them. I will provide a link to this important report following the event.

The Trustees' report is a comprehensive and thoughtful assessment of a number of the risks to our natural and built environments backed by real-world data and scientific analysis. This document buttresses the ongoing work of many organizations, including the North East Coastal Coalition and the Merrimack River Beach Alliance, and points to the need for future such collaborative efforts to further momentum toward knowledge and policy development so that we act proactively as good stewards of our coast for future generations.



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Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Legislature Enacts $1.8 Billion Bond Bill to Strengthen the Commonwealth’s


Information Technology & Physical Infrastructure

Invests in food security, education, public safety accountability

House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo and Senate President Karen E. Spilka joined their colleagues in House and Senate to pass legislation authorizing up to $1.8 billion in spending for the improvement of information technology equipment and other capital projects in Massachusetts.

The legislation also authorizes funding for food security, law enforcement body cameras, and investments in educational technologies in Massachusetts schools.

“Now, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, more than ever, everyone realizes the importance of our information technology infrastructure,” said House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo (D-Winthrop). “These investments will strengthen the resilience of our state and help provide more equitable access to key services for our residents. I thank Governor Baker, Senate President Spilka, and my colleagues in the Legislature for their work on this important bill.”

“As we adjust to a world transformed by a global pandemic we stand committed and ready to supporting existing programs and finding new ways to invest in underserved and underrepresented populations,” stated Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland).“I am thrilled to see this bill authorizes additional much-needed supports for childcare providers. I am equally proud to see this borrowing bill directs resources to a program aimed at supporting communities of color. I would like to thank all my colleagues, including House Speaker DeLeo and Senator Michael Rodrigues, for their work priorities.”


“House and Senate members made certain that the components of this legislation would have positive wide-ranging impacts for our residents over many key areas. We modernize the state's economic, justice and education systems, harden our cybersecurity capabilities and combat food insecurity with farm and fisheries grants to make food supply channels more robust and connect those in need with food resources,” said Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R - Gloucester).

“This bond bill provides over $1.5 billion in critical funding for library construction, public safety initiatives, food security programs, and technology upgrades throughout state and local government,” said House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading). “These are important investments that will allow Massachusetts to continue to address its infrastructure needs while also responding to the many challenges presented by the COVID-19 global pandemic.”

The capital plan, which includes $794 million for state and local general technology and physical infrastructure, features the following targeted investments.

· $110 million in public safety infrastructure and equipment

· $134 million in statewide economic development grants and reinvestment in disproportionately impacted communities

· $80 million in educational IT and infrastructure grants, including $50 million to assist public schools in facilitating remote learning environments

· $10 million to fund technology investments at community health centers

· $37 million in food security grants

· $25 million in capital improvements for licensed early education and care providers and after school programs to ensure safe reopening during COVID-19

· $30 million in public safety accountability technologies including body cameras and a race and ethnicity data sharing system

The legislation has now been signed into law by Governor Baker.

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State public health officials announce season’s third human case of EEE in the Commonwealth


Risk levels raised in three communities

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) today announced that laboratory testing confirmed the third human case of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) virus infection. The individual is a male in his 90s who was exposed to EEE in Plymouth County. As a result, the EEE risk level in Halifax has been raised to critical, and the EEE risk level in East Bridgewater and Hanson has been raised to high. All three municipalities are in Plymouth County.

Across the Commonwealth, there are now four municipalities at critical risk, nine at high risk, and 18 at moderate risk for EEE. DPH continues to work with the local health departments and the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources to coordinate mosquito surveillance and appropriate public health response activities. All residents are reminded to use mosquito repellent any time they are outside, and those in high and critical risk communities are advised to schedule their outdoor activity to avoid the dusk to dawn hours to reduce exposure to the mosquitoes most likely to spread EEE.

EEE is a rare but potentially fatal disease that can affect people of all ages. There have already been two other human cases identified this year. In 2019, there were 12 human cases of EEE in Massachusetts with 6 deaths. EEE virus has been found in 64 mosquito samples this year, over 70 percent of them in species of mosquitoes capable of spreading the virus to people. Information about current mosquito activity will continue to be updated regularly and can be found here.

People have an important role to play in protecting themselves and their loved ones from illnesses caused by mosquitoes. DPH recommends the preventive measures below.

Avoid Mosquito Bites
Apply Insect Repellent when Outdoors. Use a repellent with an EPA-registered ingredient (DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide), permethrin, picaridin (KBR 3023), oil of lemon eucalyptus (pmenthane 3, 8-diol (PMD) or IR3535) according to the instructions on the product label. DEET products should not be used on infants under two months of age and should be used in concentrations of 30% or less on older children. Oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under three years of age.

Be Aware of Peak Mosquito Hours. The hours from dusk to dawn are peak biting times for many mosquitoes. Consider rescheduling outdoor activities that occur during evening or early morning in areas of high risk.

Clothing Can Help Reduce Mosquito Bites. Wearing long-sleeves, long pants and socks when outdoors will help keep mosquitoes away from your skin.

Mosquito-Proof Your Home
Drain Standing Water. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water. Limit the number of places around your home for mosquitoes to breed by either draining or discarding items that hold water. Check rain gutters and drains. Empty unused flowerpots and wading pools, and change the water in birdbaths frequently.

Install or Repair Screens. Keep mosquitoes outside by having tightly-fitting screens on all of your windows and doors.

Protect Your Animals
Animal owners should reduce potential mosquito breeding sites on their property by eliminating standing water from containers such as buckets, tires, and wading pools – especially after heavy rains. Water troughs should be flushed out at least once a week during the summer months to reduce mosquitoes near paddock areas. Horse owners should keep horses in indoor stalls at night to reduce their risk of exposure to mosquitoes. Owners should speak with their veterinarian about mosquito repellents approved for use in animals and vaccinations to prevent WNV and EEE. If an animal is suspected of having WNV or EEE, owners are required to report to DAR,

Division of Animal Health by calling 617-626-1795 and to DPH by calling 617-983-6800.

For other updates about EEE in Massachusetts, visit the DPH webpage www.mass.gov/eee. Information including all West Nile virus and EEE positive results can be found on the Arbovirus Surveillance Information web page or by calling the DPH Epidemiology Program at 617-983-6800.

For the most up-to-date information on pesticide spraying locations, visit the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources Aerial Spraying Map https://massnrc.org/spray-map/.

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Joint Guidance on Modified School Sports Seasons For Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association

From The Massachusetts Department of Elementary And Secondary Education 

As the Commonwealth of Massachusetts begins the process of opening schools, we must also look at the possibility of providing athletic experiences for our students. Sports can be an important part of a well-rounded educational experience, even during the current public health crisis. Notwithstanding the risks associated with COVID-19, organized physical activity should be encouraged, within clear health and safety parameters. Most sports can be played in ways that minimize those risks. In many cases, that will mean that inter-scholastic competitions may not look the same and may need to be played under fairly stringent restrictions with modified rules.

Unfortunately, in some cases, competitive play may need to be cancelled or postponed. While difficult for all involved, it is essential that we keep health and safety paramount, both for everyone directly involved and the wider community.

Working in close consultation with a variety of stakeholders and our medical advisors and based on the Youth and Adult Amateur Sports Guidance recently provided by the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA), the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) have collaborated to provide the following modified sports schedule for school year 2020-21 and guidance for sports participation for students who are learning remotely. Please note that this guidance is pending ratification by the MIAA board and is subject to change throughout the school year.

The MIAA, in consultation with their medical advisers and EEA, will develop sport-specific modifications to meet the guidance from EEA for issuance prior to the start of each season. At this time, based on current statewide health data, sports that the EEA guidance lists as lower and moderate risk may be held during their normal seasons, provided that MIAA’s recommended modifications specific to those sports meet the standards outlined in the EEA guidance. For the fall season, higher risk sports, including football, cheer, and unified basketball, will be practice only, using the cohort method described in the EEA guidance. Schools/districts choosing to engage in practice for these sports must complete the Sport Attestation Compliance form and keep it on file.

Higher risk sports in later seasons will continue to be evaluated in light of health metrics and the EEA guidance, and MIAA will make final decisions in consultation with their medical advisers closer to the start of each season. The sports that MIAA ultimately does not approve to be played in their normal season will be moved or considered for later in the year during the floating season.

The health and safety of our school communities must remain the top priority, and we recognize that any plans for athletic opportunities must adapt to evolving public health metrics.

2020-21 Modified Sports Seasons
All sports must adhere to the minimum modifications outlined in the EEA guidance to achieve Level 3 play (inter-team competition). If those modifications cannot be met, the sport may consider moving to a later season or adopting a “practice only” model using the EEA cohort method and in alignment with other EEA guidelines. Guidance from EEA will be re-issued prior to the start of each season, based on public health data, testing availability, and any new information, and MIAA will make final decisions for each season following that updated guidance.

At this time, the sports listed above have been conditionally approved for the fall season, provided they are able to meet the minimum modifications outlined in the EEA guidance. For the fall season football, cheer, and unified basketball will be practice only, using the cohort method described in the EEA guidance. Schools/districts choosing to engage in practice for these sports must complete the Sport Attestation Compliance form and keep it on file.

Higher risk sports in later seasons (including hockey, basketball, wrestling, boys lacrosse, and rugby) will continue to be evaluated in light of health metrics and the EEA guidance and final decisions will be made closer to the start of each season. Those that are ultimately not approved by MIAA to be played in a season will be moved or considered for later in the year during the floating season, as reflected above. All sports, regardless of risk level, must follow the EEA guidelines, and moderate and higher risk sports must adopt the required minimum modifications for achieving different levels of play. To be able to engage in competitive play, modifications should include eliminating deliberate contact, modifying or eliminating intermittent contact, and increasing distancing. If these modifications are not possible, the sport may achieve a modified Level 2 play (competitive practice) using the cohort method outlined in the EEA guidance. Again, schools/districts choosing to engage in practice for these sports must complete the Sport Attestation Compliance form and keep it on file. The EEA guidance also outlines best practices for all sports, including the use of protective equipment and masks. The sport specific modifications and plan for implementation will be developed by MIAA in consultation with their medical advisors.

Based on the schedule above, school districts should work with MIAA to develop their schedules for the year and be ready to modify those schedules as needed. More detailed information on the guidelines for practices and the start of competitions will be outlined in the guidance that MIAA will release.

Sports participation for remote learners
Districts designated as “red” based on the Department of Public Health (DPH)’s metric of average daily cases per 100,000 residents and which therefore have their high school students learning remotely at the start of a season, must postpone their entire season, including practices, until the floating season later in the year.

Districts designated as yellow, green, or unshaded based on the DPH metric that nonetheless have their high school students learning remotely at the start of a season may similarly delay their season to the floating season. If a yellow, green, or unshaded district that is only offering remote learning to its high school students wishes to participate in the regularly scheduled sports season, this must be approved by the local school committee.

The MIAA will develop a timeline for looking at data prior to the start of each season to determine which color-coded designation a district should fall into for the purposes of engaging in sports. For example, the MIAA could determine a school’s color-coded designation/eligibility on September 1 to determine initial eligibility and check again on October 1 to determine if the school remains eligible to participate in the fall season.


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Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Boxford Firefighter Turnout Gear

For a firefighter turnout gear, the personal safety equipment used by an individual, is of vital importance. Boxford’s state legislative delegation successfully championed amendments to both the House and Senate budgets last year, and as a result, $50,000 was made available for the purchase of units of protective gear necessary for Boxford Fire Department's full-time and on call firefighters to respond to emergencies. 

This particular initiative is intended to protect #Boxford firefighters. Turnout gear is one of the most important things that can protect them from serious harm.

The protective gear is made of fire resistant materials, typically a blend of artificial fibers such as Kevlar. These articles are designed to prevent serious harm when firefighters come into contact with chemicals, electricity, fire or other dangers.

A growing body of research indicates that turnout gear must be cleaned after each use in a fire scene, in order to address properly the exposure to toxins and contaminants that can pose serious health risks to the wearer. In order to achieve this, and maintain necessary readiness status, departments most often must purchase and maintain two sets of gear for each firefighter. That, in turn, translates into a major expense for municipalities.

With Selectman Peter Perkins, Fire Chief Greiger, Firefighter Colangelo State Rep. Lenny Mirra, Firefighter Blake, Firefighter Ashley, Selectwoman Mary Anne Nay, Firefighter Brown,and State Rep Tram Nguyen.











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Governor Charlie Baker's Coronavirus Briefing at Noon

Today, about noon, Governor Charlie Baker will join Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders and Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Kathleen Theoharides to provide an update on Coronavirus from the State House. A live stream will be available at www.facebook.com/SenatorBruceTarr.

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Thursday, August 13, 2020

Significant Drought Conditions Declared Across Massachusetts

Above Normal Temperatures, Below Normal Rainfall Lead to Level 2 Drought   

Due to above normal temperatures throughout July and early August and more than three months of below normal rainfall, Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Kathleen Theoharides today declared a Level 2 – Significant Drought in all seven regions of the Commonwealth – the Western, Connecticut River Valley, Central, Northeast, Southeast, Cape Cod, and Islands regions. At a Level 2 – Significant Drought, as outlined in the Massachusetts Drought Management Plan, conditions are becoming significantly dry and warrant detailed monitoring of drought conditions, close coordination among state and federal agencies, emphasis on water conservation, more stringent watering restrictions, and technical outreach and assistance for the affected municipalities.

“The combination of three months of limited rainfall and well above normal temperatures through July and early August have led to very dry conditions in every region of Massachusetts,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides. “All levels of government are coordinating to address these critical drought conditions, and it is essential that residents and businesses across the Commonwealth take extra care to conserve water both indoors and outdoors and be mindful of the increased risk of wildlife when using any fire or smoking materials.”

“Because the Commonwealth continues to experience drought conditions across the state, the public is urged to continue conserving water in order to reduce the demand on water supplies,” said Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) Director Samantha Phillips. “Dry conditions increase the threat of brush and wildland fires, so we urge residents to exercise caution when using charcoal grills, matches, and other open flames during outdoor activities and to call 911 immediately if there is a fire to prevent the fire from spreading.”  The declaration was informed by recommendations and discussions from a recent meeting of the Drought Management Task Force (DMTF), composed of state and federal officials and other entities, and will remain in effect until water levels return to normal in the affected regions.

Temperatures remain well above normal, as the Commonwealth recorded the second hottest July on record last month. Rainfall was scattered across the state with only a few areas receiving above normal precipitation; most areas were in a deficit by 1 to 3 inches. Meanwhile, temperatures throughout the first two weeks of August are 2 to 4 degrees above normal throughout Massachusetts, with warmer than normal temperatures predicted in the coming weeks and months. While most regions of the Commonwealth are experiencing a classic long-term drought, the Southeast, Cape Cod, and Islands regions are experiencing conditions akin to a ‘flash drought’ which is a rapid onset drought with decreased precipitation, above normal temperatures, and incoming radiation resulting in abnormally high evapotranspiration all combining to increase fire danger and decrease crop moisture levels.
Additionally, wildland fire risk continues across the state. Extended drought conditions have rendered grasses, shrubs and forest fuels very dry across most of the state, and extremely dry in areas of the Southeast, resulting in increased wildfire risk and added challenges for firefighting agencies. Long term precipitation deficits have also led to extremely dry soil conditions, which results in fires burning deep into the ground, and taking multiple days to extinguish. These conditions exhaust local resources and increase risk to firefighter safety.  Fire officials remind the public to be very aware of this situation, and to be careful with all open burning and disposal of combustible materials. 

The state continues to intensely monitor and assess the drought situation, and any associated environmental and agricultural impacts. Task Force officials also noted that the state’s streamflow saw overall improvement in July because of scattered rainfall. However, within the first two weeks of August, conditions seem to have worsened, with well below normal streamflow observed in most regions. The state asks residents in every region across the Commonwealth to be very mindful of the amount of water they are using, to be proactive in reducing or eliminating outdoor water use, to reduce indoor water use, and to address plumbing leaks as soon as possible. Limiting nonessential outdoor watering is one of the most effective ways to minimize the impacts of drought on water supply and the environment, and ensure there is enough water for fire protection. All these steps will help reduce water use to ensure essential needs such as drinking water and fire protection are being met, and habitats have enough water to recover.  

For Regions in Level 2 – Significant Drought
Residents and Businesses:
• Minimize overall water use;
• Limit outdoor watering to hand-held hoses or watering cans, to be used only after 5 p.m. or before 9 a.m. one day a week.

Immediate Steps for Communities:
• Adopt and implement the state’s nonessential outdoor water use restrictions for drought; Level 2 restriction calls for limiting outdoor watering to hand-held hoses or watering cans, to be used only after 5 p.m. or before 9 a.m.

• Limit or prohibit installation of new sod, seeding, and/or landscaping; watering during or within 48 hours after measurable rainfall; washing of hard surfaces (sidewalks, patios, driveways, siding); personal vehicle or boat washing; operation of non-recirculating fountains; filling of swimming pools, hot tubs, and backyard informal rinks.

• Implement drought surcharge or seasonal water rates.
• Establish water-use reduction targets for all water users and identify top water users and conduct targeted outreach to help curb their use.

  Short- and Medium-Term Steps for Communities:
• Establish a year-round water conservation program that includes public education and communication;
• Provide timely information to local residents and businesses;
• Check emergency inter-connections for water supply; and
• Develop a local drought management plan using guidance outlined in the state Drought Management Plan.

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) continues to provide technical assistance to communities on managing systems, including assistance on use of emergency connections and water supplies, as well as assisting towns on how to request a declaration of drought emergency.

“Water suppliers should continue to work with their customers and educate them on strategies to manage demand during this time period,” said MassDEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg. “It is essential that regions across Massachusetts embrace conservation practices to avoid added stress on drinking water resources and other water-dependent habitats.”

The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) water supply system is not currently experiencing drought conditions, as defined within its individual plan.

The declaration of a Level 2 – Significant Drought requires the Drought Management Task Force to meet on a regular basis to more closely assess conditions across the state, coordinate dissemination of information to the public, and help state, federal and local agencies prepare any responses that may be needed in the future. The Task Force will meet on a monthly basis or more frequently as conditions warrant; the next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, September 3, 2020 at 1:00 pm and will be held virtually via Zoom.

Last year, EEA completed a two-year process and updated the Massachusetts Drought Management Plan to better assess drought conditions across the state and maximize the state’s ability to prepare for and respond to a drought. The Plan also provides guidance to communities on drought preparedness and outlines response actions that can be taken at the local level.

For further information on water conservation and what residents and communities can do, visit the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs’ drought page.

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