Pittsfield, North Adams Support Paint Stewardship Program

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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The county's two cities are backing paint stewardship legislation currently in the Legislature.
Pittsfield's City Council last week voted unanimously to support a resolution requesting the Legislature act favorably on the bill before the House Ways & Means Committee. The North Adams City Council did the same. 
"Pittsfield's resolution in support of paint stewardship adds to the remarkable list of valued Berkshire endorsers, including North Adams, Adams, Williamstown, Great Barrington, Dalton, Lenox, Lee, Sheffield, Stockbridge, Hinsdale, Becket, Lanesborough, Clarksburg, Otis, West Stockbridge, Egremont, Florida, Hancock, Savoy, Windsor and the Northern Berkshire Solid Waste Management District," said advocate Tom Irwin in a statement. "This level of municipal support strongly suggests that paint stewardship is a priority for nearly every municipality in Massachusetts."
Irwin, of Dalton, has spearheaded the local campaign to drive community support for the legislation, attending council and select board meetings to explain its benefits.
Waneta Trabert, chair of the Massachusetts Product Stewardship Council, said in a press release that support in the Berkshires has been "amazing and is deeply appreciated."
The program, already implemented in Connecticut, New York and Vermont, would be one way to address Massachusetts' trash surplus. It would collect a $1 per gallon surcharge at the time of purchase. Consumers would then be able to return partially used cans of paint to retailers for collection by PaintCare, a non-profit that represents paint producers and has, to date, collected more than 71 million gallons of paint, according to its website.
PaintCare hauls the unwanted cans to a processing plant, where it is reblended and sold to groups like Habitat for Humanity.
Massachusetts residents are already participating in the program by making up a significant number of the customers returning latex paint to a Sherwin-Williams store in Enfield, Conn., near the state line. Irwin has cited the rising cost of waste disposal and declining space capacity in Massachusetts, as well as environmental concerns, as reasons for supporting paint recycling and reuse. 
Despite all that support, bills proposing a stewardship program in Massachusetts so far have languished on Beacon Hill. Irwin is trying to get municipalities to express their support in an effort to put pressure on legislators in Boston to advance the idea.
"I believe that supporting legislation like this is important not only for the city of Pittsfield but for the state as a whole in addressing the environmental impacts of waste disposal," said Mayor Peter Marchetti in a statement. "We need to continuously look for ways in which we can reduce the amount of disposal to our landfills while increasing our recycling efforts."
North Adams City Council President Bryan Sapienza had requested time for Irwin to speak to the council in February. 
"From what I understand we are the 40th community to accept this [resolution] and now this can move forward to the state," he said after the resolution passed last week. 
Both state Sen. Paul Mark, an original petitioner of one of the bills, and state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier have indicated their backing for the program, with Mark noting towns throughout his four-county district have offered "strong support" and that it "would be a great next step toward improving the environment in Massachusetts."
"This kind of growing grassroots support for specific changes is what is making big environmental changes at the state level." said Farley-Bouvier in a statement. "Everything we can do to protect our environment will make a huge difference for the next generation."

Tags: painting,   recycling,   waste collections,   

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Pittsfield ConCom OKs Zebra Mussel Treatment

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Conservation Commission has OKed a zebra mussel pesticide treatment in Onota Lake if the invasive species are confirmed.

On Thursday, the panel approved a notice of intent application for the use of EarthTec QZ within a specified treatment area of the lake.  

"We're not entirely 100 percent sure that there is an infestation of zebra mussels at Onota Lake. Last September, a water sample was taken and the DNA of zebra mussel was detected in that water sample. This was a water sample taken near the boat ramp at Burbank Park. Subsequent water samples were taken later in the fall and very early this spring, there were still non-detects in those water samples for DNA showing the presence of zebra mussels," Park, Open Space and Natural Resource Program Manager James McGrath said.

"We continue to, most recently as this Tuesday, we are sampling for zebra mussel EDNA and we should know the results of those samples certainly by early next week."

McGrath addressed the commission with a sense of urgency, as the lake is currently around 52 degrees Fahrenheit and the zebra mussels begin to activate around 55 degrees Fahrenheit.  He described it as "an opportunity to take what could be a potential massively serious ecological issue at Onota Lake and nip it in the bud."

"What we're proposing here is a collaborative approach where there are many stakeholders involved," he said. "This is not Jim McGrath proposing the use of EarthTec QZ at the lake. This is something we have been very deliberative about."

The application was continued from the previous meeting so that it could be filed as a state Ecological Restoration Limited Project.

"Really what it means is that it's eligible, which I think this project meets the eligibility requirements, it affords the right to not have to comply with general performance standards for the resource area that's being impacted," Conservation Agent Robert Van Der Kar said.

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