SECTION 1. Section 2 of Chapter 21G of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2014 Official Edition, is hereby amended by inserting after “Department” the following definition:-
“Division”, the division of fisheries and wildlife.
SECTION 2. Section 3 of said chapter 21G, as so appearing, is hereby further amended by inserting, in line 67, after the phrase “chapter twenty-one”, the following sentences:—
“Pursuant to chapter 30A, the department, after consultation with the advisory committee and with the approval of the commission and the director of the division, shall adopt, and thereafter from time to time may amend, regulations establishing standards for restoring and maintaining stream flows, water levels and hydrologic regimes that are protective of natural aquatic life for all rivers and streams in the commonwealth and ensure a balance among competing water withdrawals and uses, as well as preservation of the water resource itself. Said regulations, which shall incorporate the criteria, goals and conditions established by the division pursuant to section 42A of chapter 131, shall be promulgated within 1 year of the division’s establishment of the criteria and shall be used in the administration of this chapter. The department’s regulations shall allow the department in consultation with the division to establish such standards protective of natural aquatic life for a specific river or stream.”
SECTION 3. Section 7 of said chapter 21G, as so appearing, is hereby further amended by inserting at the end thereof the following paragraphs:-
(11) All feasible means to avoid, or if not possible, to minimize and mitigate impacts of the withdrawal on the natural environment have been taken.
(12) Consistency with the standards adopted by the department pursuant to section 3.
SECTION 4. Section 8 of said chapter 21G, as so appearing, is hereby further amended by inserting, in lines 21-22, after word “applicant” the following:-
A demonstration that all feasible means to avoid, or if not possible, to minimize and mitigate impacts of the withdrawal on the natural environment have been taken or will be taken. Mitigation shall occur upstream in the same sub-basin as the withdrawal to the maximum extent practicable, and within the same basin as the withdrawal if such impacts cannot be offset in the same sub-basin. Permittees may enter into agreements with third parties, including the Department of Fish and Game, to implement mitigation required herein.
SECTION 5. Section 39J of chapter 40 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2012 Official Edition, is hereby amended by inserting, in line 15, after the word " protection," the following words:- “all costs or measures to ensure the long-term sustainability of the water supply,”.
SECTION 6. Chapter 131 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2012 Official Edition, is hereby amended by inserting, after section 42, the following section:-
Section 42A. Consistent with Sections 3 of Chapter 21G of the General Laws, which provides for establishing a mechanism for managing ground and surface water in the commonwealth as a single hydrological system and ensuring, where necessary, a balance among competing water withdrawals and uses and that factors are considered, the division shall establish:
(a) Aquatic habitat criteria that define specific attributes necessary to maintain and restore stream flows, water levels and hydrologic regimes that are protective of natural aquatic life for all rivers and streams in the commonwealth. Such criteria shall be based on the best scientific evidence and methodologies available and shall be based on and provide for the natural variation of stream flows, and water levels adequate to ensure their chemical, biological and physical integrity. The criteria shall:
(1) Protect and restore the natural hydrological cycle and its natural variability including, but not limited to its seasonality, magnitude, frequency, duration, timing and rate of change.
(2) Be based to the extent practical on the site specific attributes of water sources and the river and coastal watersheds within which they are contained and shall provide, to the extent possible, site-specific guidelines and monitoring requirements at the appropriate ecologic and hydrologic scales.
(3) Include specific criteria designed to protect the most limiting hydrologic condition at which water quality criteria must be applied at the appropriate ecological scale in rivers and streams with permitted wastewater discharges.
These aquatic habitat criteria shall be based on and support the attainment of aquatic habitat goals for water sources defined at an appropriate ecological scale. The division shall, in consultation with the Department of Environmental Protection, the Department of Conservation and Recreation and the Department of Agricultural Resources, define goals necessary to support aquatic health, defined as native, naturally diverse community of aquatic dependent flora and fauna. These goals shall be based on the best available science about the conditions necessary to support native, naturally diverse communities of aquatic dependent flora and fauna including, but not limited to, fluvial, coldwater and migratory fish, found, or expected to be naturally found, in the water sources and the river and coastal watersheds within which they are found.
The division shall describe and define the range of existing aquatic habitat conditions currently found in Massachusetts, and shall, as necessary, update this condition assessment. Such conditions shall be based on the best available and using appropriate and generally accepted statistical methods.
Within one year of the effective date of this act, the division shall adopt these criteria, goals and condition descriptions for all rivers and streams.
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