my pleasure to present to you, on behalf of the staff of the Department
of Environmental Management, our Annual Report for 1999. It has a new
look and presents information in accordance with the promise we made last
year to focus more clearly on priorities and on environmental results.
One of our most important goals was to reenergize the Department's performance
and to become more accountable to you about that performance. This is
our progress report.
The following sections track the Department's Work Plan for the years
2000-2001. The development of that Work Plan last summer was itself a
major achievement, as it translated department-wide goals and priorities
into specific work plans. The goals include clean air, clean and plentiful
water, livable communities, healthy ecosystems, viable natural resource-based
industries, abundant open space and recreational opportunities, as well
as open and effective government.
Department also developed work plans for two pilot watershed regions to
guide contributions by all offices to local efforts to restore water quality,
protect water supplies, preserve open space and promote sustainable economic
activity. The Department also began quarterly evaluations to make sure
we make appropriate progress towards meeting our Work Plan goals. By the
end of 1999, 94% of DEM projects were on track. Among the highlights are
The Department appointed Tom Getz to the new,
senior level position of Ombudsman. He has authority to conduct independent
investigations of external or internal complaints about how the Department
handles certain matters. Since such investigations may indicate a need
for the Department to change its ways, Tom also plays a major role in
efforts to retool the Department's performance, from permit streamlining
to personnel matters and vehicle use policies. The Department also began
quarterly meetings of a business roundtable and an environmental roundtable
to give constituents a regular opportunity to raise concerns and provide
feedback. They are well attended and productive meetings.
One area in which the Department needed to be particularly responsive
is compliance and enforcement. Many complaints were heard about our field
inspections and the effectiveness of our enforcement. We made this a top
priority and developed draft Inspection Guidelines which balance the need
to conduct regulatory inspections with the need to respect private property.
After public review the guidelines will be finalized as part of a comprehensive
new enforcement policy. Other elements of the policy are earlier notice
to responsible parties that the Department has evidence of violations,
so that they can be stopped and remedied more quickly, as well as more
consistency in procedures, from timelines to penalty calculations. The
hazardous waste program that has been criticized so severely increased
formal enforcement actions from two in Federal Fiscal Year (FFY) 1998
(October 1997 to September 1998) to twenty in FFY 1999, resolved over
80 percent of outstanding enforcement cases dating back to the 1980s,
and received praise from the Environmental Protection Agency.
We completed design of computer infrastructure that will enable the Department
to process and track permit applications more efficiently and that will
allow for ultimate inclusion of the compliance assistance and enforcement
programs. We will begin to use the system this year. In addition, the
Department is on a schedule to evaluate all permitting programs, identify
inefficiencies and develop administrative, regulatory or statutory solutions.
The first, very active taskforce is on track to finalize recommendations
for the wetlands program before the Summer.
Pollution Prevention. Together
with the Department of Health, the Davies Vocational School and industry
representatives, we launched an ambitious initiative to reduce impacts
to workers and the environment from toxic materials in the autobody repair
industry. The focus is on reducing the toxic content of products such
as body fillers and paints, as well as use of better technologies and
housekeeping practices to recycle materials and prevent discharges to
the environment. We are working with industry to develop standards and
operating procedures, education and technical assistance, and a program
that, instead of requiring permits, allows businesses to certify compliance
with these standards. The Department intends to expand this self-certification
approach to other industry sectors (for example, dry cleaning).
Many initiatives fit under this heading. First,
as the work plans for two pilot watersheds indicate, the Department is
reorienting many of its programs to a watershed focus. This means we take
a more holistic look at environmental challenges. We use better science
to address water quality and water supply issues. (See details in this
report on our new schedules for issuing wastewater discharge permits,
and for determining Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) that take into account
both point and nonpoint sources in an entire watershed; our septic system
and stormwater management programs; and our work with many watershed partners
to develop a water "budget" that reconciles competing demands
on a limited source of water.) We partner with cities and towns, businesses
and nonprofit groups to develop more effective and equitable, regulatory
and nonregulatory solutions. We listen to the needs of the watershed and
the watershed communities first, instead of presuming that we, as state
regulators, know best. We make the connection between water and land protection.
We recognize farmers, foresters and fishers as stewards of our resources
and try to help them stay in business by helping farmers through last
year's drought and being better prepared this year; helping farmers and
foresters develop business plans; and improving fishing port facilities.
We develop incentives (such as the planning grants in the proposed open
space bond issue) to plan for economic growth and resource protection
at the local level. And we work with the Coastal Resources Management
Council and others on passage of legislation to establish a collaborative
habitat restoration program.
We still have a long way to go and I hope that this report demonstrates
the Department is making good progress. I would like to thank, first of
all, DEM staff for responding so well to new leadership, taking so much
initiative themselves, and working extremely hard to meet goals and deadlines.
I thank in particular the Governor for the strong support he is giving
me and the Department, and for his leadership on issues like open space
protection and restoration of water quality (including his all-important
proposals for new bond funding). Similarly, I thank the leadership in
the General Assembly for their support and accessibility. And last but
not least, the Department thanks the many advisory groups members, stakeholders,
customers who write or call in with feedback, and partners, for volunteering
your time and helping us do our job.