New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission (NEIWPCC)
The New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission is a not-for-profit interstate agency that utilizes a variety of strategies to meet the water-related needs of our member states—Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont. NEIWPCC serves and assists our states by coordinating activities and forums that encourage cooperation among the states, developing resources that foster progress on water and wastewater issues, representing the region in matters of federal policy, training environmental professionals, initiating and overseeing scientific research projects, educating the public, and providing overall leadership in water management and protection.
NEIWPCC is a leader in forming strong bonds between the New England and New York State environmental agencies, and is unique in its ability to bring diverse interest groups together, create forums for collaboration, and educate with innovative products. For well over six decades, the Commission has managed interstate water conflicts by means of sound science, coordination, and adaptation.
According to our Compact, NEIWPCC is to be overseen by 35 Commissioners—five from each member state—who are appointed by their state governors. (The number of NEIWPCC Commissioners from each state can vary slightly from year to year due to the gubernatorial appointment process.) Each state’s five-person delegation must include the leaders of its environmental and public health agencies, who typically designate representatives to attend NEIWPCC meetings on their behalf. A state’s remaining three seats go to individuals appointed to the Commission due to their experience and interest in water and wastewater issues. The chairmanship of the Commission rotates between states every two years.
Under the leadership of NEIWPCC’s Executive Director and Deputy Director, NEIWPCC's staff develops and implements programs endorsed by our Commissioners. Further coordination of the work comes from the directors of our three main divisions: Water Quality, Wastewater and Onsite Systems, and Water Resource Protection. NEIWPCC's headquarters are in Lowell, Mass., but we also employ staff in other locations as a means of more directly supporting programs and projects in our member states.
NEIWPCC works for clean water by helping our member states—Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont—meet their water-related needs. NEIWPCC coordinates forums and events that encourage cooperation among the states, develops resources that foster progress on water and wastewater issues, represents the region in matters of federal policy, trains environmental professionals, initiates and oversees scientific research, educates the public, and provides overall leadership in water management and protection.
Vision and Values
NEIWPCC, in consultation with our member states, takes a leadership role on regional and national issues while developing and implementing water programs complementary to and supportive of the statutes, goals, and programs of the states, EPA, and other federal, state, and local entities. All of NEIWPCC’s work is built upon a foundation of values that represent the character of the commission:
Prioritization on Listening — The impetus for NEIWPCC’s programs arises from needs expressed by our member states.
Commitment to Coordination — The benefits from coordination among member states are significant and accrue to the states both collectively and individually.
Dedication to Communication — Workgroups, conferences, and other means of regular communication facilitate regional and national coordination among member states, EPA, and other federal, state, and local entities.
Emphasis on Professional Development — Through development and delivery of training and educational programs, we increase knowledge and improve skills and, in turn, contribute to the betterment of communities and society.
Responsibility to Expand Knowledge — By conducting and supporting water-related research, we deepen the knowledge of our region’s water challenges and foster the development of solutions.
Determination to Increase Awareness — Developing and distributing information that explains and clarifies water issues leads to awareness that breeds support for the work for clean water.
Resolve to Lead — To best serve and assist our member states in their work of protecting and enhancing their waters, the commission maintains a leadership role within the environmental community.
Since NEIWPCC's formation in 1947, our Commissioners have played a critical role in setting the organization's priorities, evaluating staff programs and projects, and representing their state's interests. NEIWPCC is overseen by 35 Commissioners—five from each member state—who are appointed by their state governors. (The number of NEIWPCC Commissioners from each state can vary from year to year due to the gubernatorial appointment process.) A state's delegation typically consists of the heads of its environmental and health agencies, who generally designate representatives to attend NEIWPCC meetings on their behalf, supplemented by three highly experienced individuals from outside state government. This approach provides the Commission with diverse, expert leadership.
Meetings involving all of NEIWPCC's Commissioners are held three times a year. We typically hold five meetings annually of our Executive Committee, which consists of the heads of our member states' environmental agencies or their representatives.
Each year, our Commissioners elect a chair and vice-chair, with these officer positions rotating between the states to ensure equal representation. The vice-chair generally ascends to chair after each has served two one-year terms. The current officers are listed below, followed by links to access information on the NEIWPCC Commissioners from each of our member states.
The New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission's roots stretch back to the post-World War II era, when an industrial and population boom was in full swing and pollutants often flowed unchecked into lakes, rivers, and bays. Congress recognized the need for states to cooperate in the fight against this growing threat, and in 1947, passed legislation allowing for the formation of interstate water pollution control commissions. Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts responded immediately by forming NEIWPCC. Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, and New York State joined the Commission shortly thereafter. The member states endowed NEIWPCC with responsibilities, power, jurisdiction, and financial support.
NEIWPCC originally focused on creating water quality standards and classifications for interstate waters in the New England-New York region. This led naturally to an involvement with issues surrounding wastewater treatment. That focus on wastewater continues to this day, but NEIWPCC's role has expanded considerably. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, federal and state legislative changes, coupled with the growing complexity of water quality issues, spurred the Commission to take on a broader role in serving our member states' interests. In 1969, NEIWPCC created the New England Regional Wastewater Institute (NERWI), a training school for wastewater treatment plant operators, located on the campus of the Southern Maine Vocational Technical Institute in South Portland, Maine. After the passage of the federal Clean Water Act in 1972, NEIWPCC again expanded activities to include public outreach and an even greater emphasis on environmental training and assistance.
In recent decades, we have further broadened our role by adding more responsibilities to our agenda in response to the priorities of our member states. The Commission's programs have grown to include areas such as climate change, pharmaceuticals and personal care products, stormwater, nonpoint source pollution, wetlands, groundwater and source water protection, and underground storage tanks. The Commission is also involved in the policy arena, using written communications and congressional testimony to represent our member states' views on proposed regulatory changes. In 1998, NERWI discontinued operations, but NEIWPCC has maintained a firm commitment to training; we now offer a diverse range of courses at locations throughout our member states. NEIWPCC also manages Maine's Joint Environmental Training Coordinating Committee (JETCC).
NEIWPCC continues to evolve as we respond to ever changing water issues. Over the years, we have tapped the region's considerable expertise, new partnerships, and explored fresh sources of funding. NEIWPCC remains flexible and adaptive so that we can address emerging issues in an efficient, effective manner and remain at the forefront of water management and protection.
At NEIWPCC, we typically operate safe in the assumption that our member states are well aware of the value reaped by partnership with NEIWPCC and participation in our activities. But occasionally we provide more tangible evidence.
In 2015, NEIWPCC staff worked with its Executive Committee and Commissioners to develop a list of Water Program Priorities. This list represents issues that are of common concern to all of NEIWPCC's member states and that we expect to be engaged in for the coming years. The list includes 19 topics, 7 of which have been identified as the highest priorities.
Once a year, NEIWPCC develops for each of our member states a summary that provides short descriptions of some of the many ways in which we are serving and assisting a state. These summaries are by no means comprehensive listings of our work—far from it—but they do capture the diversity of our services to each state and the positive results generated. The summaries are sent to the leaders of the environmental and public health agencies in our member states as well as to our other NEIWPCC Commissioners as a means of illustrating the many benefits each state gleans from the modest dues paid to be a part of the Commission.
To meet our mission of serving and assisting our member states, one of the key roles NEIWPCC plays is coordinating numerous regional workgroups. Many of these groups are issue-based, focusing on topics such as water quality standards, climate change, and onsite wastewater. Others are formed to complete a specific task, resulting in products such as technical wastewater guides or water quality models. Workgroups are primarily comprised of state, EPA, and NEIWPCC staff, with representatives of other agencies and organizations included as appropriate. NEIWPCC staff are responsible for scheduling and coordinating meetings, setting agendas, and seeing projects and products through to completion.