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MA - Bay State gets $17M for Dam, Seawall Upgrades

January 6, 2013

Massachusetts lawmakers approved the creation of a $17 million loan pool to be used for dam and seawall repairs and replacements.

Massachusetts lawmakers endorsed the creation of a $17 million loan pool to be used for dam and seawall repairs and replacements in the Bay State.

The legislators approved the bill in a rare New Year’s Eve session, a year after a report by the state auditor indicated that $60 million is needed to repair 100 “high hazardous” dams. A report from the state Department of Conservation Recreation, which was released even earlier, stated that $1 billion was required to repair 140 miles of seawalls.

The bill will allocate half of the funds, which will come from a defunct water abatement trust account, for the repair or removal of dams, and the rest to repair seawalls and levies, aside from other coastal improvements.

Another legislator acknowledged the inadequate funding given the multiple projects across the state.

“$17 million is not nearly enough to address the need that is out there,” said Sen. Mark Pacheco (D), who hails from Taunton and chairs the Senate joint committee on Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture. “There’s got to be a way to prioritize the most dangerous dams that need to be addressed.”

The bill attempts to address the lack of funds through some provisions, such as one which allows communities to sell municipal bonds to remove a dam, as well as a requirement for the state to list the most distressed dams.

After the bill is passed, Governor Deval Patrick will have 10 days to approve or veto it. The bill automatically becomes a law if the governor’s office does not take any action.


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