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General Laws

Section 18A. (a) As used in this section, the following words shall have the following meanings unless the context otherwise requires:

“Advisory committee”, the advisory committee on administration of the federal safe drinking water assessment.

“Act”, the federal safe drinking water act, as amended from time to time, including regulations promulgated under said act.

“Assessment”, the federal safe drinking water act assessment established by this section.

“Commissioner”, the commissioner of the department of environmental protection.

“Department”, the department of environmental protection.

“End suppliers”, suppliers of water who provide water directly to users.

“Receipts”, monies received by the department which are proceeds from the assessment.

“Suppliers of water”, suppliers of water as defined in the federal safe drinking water act.

“Users”, all consumers of water, whether public or private or taxed or tax-exempt, provided by end suppliers.

“Withdrawal”, the withdrawal, purchase or pumping of water by an end supplier.

(b) Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, the department is authorized and directed to establish a federal safe drinking water act assessment to assist the department in providing technical compliance assistance to and otherwise to regulate all suppliers of water pursuant to the act in the manner set forth in this section. Collection of the assessment may begin on or after July first, nineteen hundred and ninety-three. Matters relating to the rate, collection, cost, enforcement and application and other administrative features of the assessment shall be in accordance with regulations of the department adopted pursuant to section two of chapter thirty A, after consultation with the advisory committee. Such regulations, in addition to such further matters reasonably incidental to the administration of the assessment as may be determined by the department shall:

(i) provide that the assessment shall be remitted to the department by the end supplier;

(ii) set and provide for periodic revision of, the rate of assessment at a uniform level not to exceed one cent per one thousand gallons of withdrawal, such that receipts in the aggregate are reasonably related to defraying the department’s direct and indirect costs for monitoring, inspections, technical assistance, reporting and enforcement activities necessary to ensure compliance with the act and any regulations of the department adopted to implement the act;

(iii) establish the timing of assessments, collection and remittances;

(iv) establish the manner in which end suppliers engaged in the distribution of water shall apportion and collect amounts necessary to defray the assessment, and their administrative costs relating thereto up to but not more than five percent of the outstanding assessment for all users for the applicable assessment period in the aggregate, from users without further action of the department of telecommunications and energy; provided, however, that each end supplier shall have the option of determining how its invoice to users shall show such defraying amounts and the frequency of invoicing;

(v) establish reasonable mechanisms for collection and enforcement including but not limited to:

(A) the imposition of penalties not to exceed five thousand dollars per day for failure of end suppliers to remit proper receipts to the department;

(B) the setting of a reasonable rate of interest, which shall not be exclusive of applicable penalties, if any, to be borne by the end supplier on overdue remittances; and

(C) the establishment of reasonable audit and reporting procedures;

(vi) establish a program providing for payments in lieu of assessments for any end supplier which cannot meter its withdrawal to the satisfaction of the department, until satisfactory metering has been installed.

Amounts payable as assessments, administrative costs and payments in lieu of assessments shall be recovered to the maximum practical extent from charges to users. Nothing in this section shall limit the authority of the department of telecommunications and energy to rule on the propriety of any rates charged by any end suppliers subject to its jurisdiction; provided, however, that in making such a ruling, the department of telecommunications and energy shall consider the amount of the assessment; and, provided further, that such ruling shall not impose any condition inconsistent with the provisions of this section or any regulations adopted hereunder.

Compliance with any requirement imposed by the department of telecommunications and energy shall not exempt any end supplier from the requirements of this section or regulations adopted hereunder. The department of telecommunications and energy shall monitor the manner in which investor-owned end suppliers engaged in the distribution of water apportion and collect amounts necessary to defray the assessment and applicable administrative costs;

(vii) establish the assessment rate by October first of each year for the following fiscal year. End suppliers shall be notified by mail of the assessment rate by November first of each year. The department shall mail bills to end suppliers during the month of July of each year for that fiscal year.

(c) All receipts shall be deposited in the Safe Drinking Water Act Fund established pursuant to section two P1/2 of chapter twenty-nine, and used solely for the purposes set forth therein; provided, however, that receipts shall be used solely for administering said act and furthering its purposes. Any unexpended balance may be used to defray the amount of the assessment in future fiscal years. Regulations establishing the assessment pursuant to this section shall not be in effect in any fiscal year in which the department fails to provide from state funds, other than those collected under the terms of this section, a match of seventy-five percent of the amount of the federal grant attributable to the implementation of the act.

(d) In the event that the requirements of this section conflict with applicable federal requirements pertaining to the establishment and collection of the assessment by the department, such federal requirements shall take precedence over any conflicting requirements of this section and the department shall have the authority to establish, by regulation, and to collect such assessment in accordance with applicable federal requirements.

(e) The department shall establish an advisory committee on administration of the federal safe drinking water assessment.

The representative organizations may nominate persons for consideration and the commissioner shall appoint such persons to the advisory committee as deemed desirable in accordance with this section, which members shall serve until successors shall be appointed and qualified by the commissioner. No state employee shall be appointed to the advisory committee and no person appointed to the advisory committee shall be deemed to be a state employee for purposes of any other general or special law. Members of the advisory committee shall serve without compensation except for reimbursement of their direct expenses of travel from their place of abode to the regular meetings of the advisory committee. The commissioner’s appointees shall include one representative from each of the following categories of organizations, two of which such designated representatives who are water utility personnel shall serve, under the same terms and conditions as members of the committee established pursuant to section eighteen of chapter twenty-one A: a Massachusetts statewide water works nonprofit association, a New England regional water works nonprofit association, a nonprofit association representing rural water systems, a regional water works association, a nonprofit association representing investor-owned water companies, two statewide environmental organizations, organizations representing non-community water suppliers, the Massachusetts Municipal Association, an organization representing industry and one member who shall be appointed the commissioner. The total membership of the committee shall not exceed eleven, a majority of which shall be comprised of water utility personnel. In addition to consulting with the advisory committee prior to adoption of regulations implementing this section, the department shall review with the advisory committee the operation of the assessment program authorized by this section at least quarterly.

(f) The committee and the department shall undertake the additional responsibility to ensure that regular public service announcements are released to inform the public as to the requirements and costs associated with the act. The committee, with administrative support from the department, shall produce an annual report on the assessment program for the house and senate committees on ways and means and the joint committee on natural resources and agriculture, with a summary of all findings and action taken mailed to all end suppliers.

(g) The department shall not collect water quality annual compliance assurance fees for public water supplies.

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