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Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program

Meeting of the Public Health Council

PUBLIC HEALTH COUNCIL

 

Meeting of the Public Health Council, Tuesday, January 27, 1998, 10:00 a.m., Mass. Department of Public Health, 250 Washington Street, Boston, Massachusetts. Present were: Dr. Howard Koh, Chairman, Dr. Clifford Askinazi (arrived late at 10:55 a.m.), Dr. Peter Connolly, Mr. James Phelps, Mr. Sean Rush, Mr. Albert Sherman, Ms. Janet Slemenda, and Mr. Joseph Sneider. Mr. BertramYaffe absent. Also in attendance was Atty. Donna Levin, General Counsel.

 

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Excerpted of portion of meeting minutes

PROPOSED REGULATIONS:

 

INFORMATIONAL BRIEFING ON PROPOSED AMENDMENTS TO MINIMUM STANDARDS FOR BATHING BEACHES - 105 CMR 445.000 (STATE SANITARY CODE, CH. VII):

 

Mr. Howard Wensley, Director, Division of Community Sanitation, accompanied by Attorney Tracy Miller, Deputy General Counsel, Office of the General Counsel, presented the proposed bathing beaches regulations to the Council. Mr. Wensley said in part, "... Microbiological contamination of recreational waters is an important public health concern. Such contamination is generally associated with either human sewage or non-human waste. There are a number of pathways by which such contamination may occur. These include failures in human sewage treatment facilities, improperly treated sewage sludge, leachate from septic systems, direct discharge from boats and recreational vehicles, animal wastes, urban runoff from storm drains and combined sewer systems, as well as from swimmers. The actual pathogens that cause disease are very difficult to measure in marine waters. In addition, because of the variety of different pathogens that could be present in marine waters, measuring all possible pathogens is too difficult for routine testing programs. Public health officials typically estimate the potential for pathogens to be present by testing for a microorganism or group of microorganisms whose life cycle(s) mimics that of a specific pathogen. Although the monitoring of these indicator organisms does not allow a direct quantification of pathogenic organisms that cause health effects, it is an inexpensive, effective way of monitoring the overall well-being of recreational waters."

 

Mr. Wensley continued, "The existing regulations use the Total Coliform (TC) count as the indicator organism for determining the bacterial quality of the bathing beach water. The regulations state that if the TC level reaches 1000 colonies the local board of health should investigate further. Boards of health and the regulated community have requested more specific guidance relative to the closure of beaches for bathing purposes. The need for such a standard is also supported by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Natural Resources Defense Council."

 

In conclusion, Mr. Wensley stated, "After review of current literature, the recommendations of EPA, and discussions with affected agencies, staff proposes amendments to the regulations." Below is a summary of the proposed amendments:

 

 

NO VOTE/INFORMATION ONLY