Our History

short beach

The creation of Safer Waters in Massachusetts (SWIM) in 1984 was sparked by the discovery that Lynn had a tentative waiver to release inadequately treated sewage into Broad Sound, from an outfall a little over a mile south of Nahant.  As a result of SWIM’s vigorous campaigning, a Secondary Sewage Treatment Plant was activated in 1991 to treat wastewater from Lynn, Nahant, Swampscott, and Saugus.  

Since then, SWIM has had to swing into action for many environmental emergencies. For example:

*  SWIM was instrumental in requiring Boston to build its sewage outfall farther from Nahant and the North Shore.

*  SWIM made sure that Boston, Lynn and Salem installed secondary sewage treatment.

*  SWIM prevented dumping of contaminated dredging spoils from Chelsea Creek just offshore from Nahant. This victory has had widespread ramifications, stopping and preventing other proposals to use the ocean to dispose of polluted material.

*  SWIM helped fight proposed construction of floodgates across the Saugus River.

*  SWIM worked to protect the lobsters from environmental effects of the gas pipeline recently built offshore from Beverly to the South Shore.

* SWIM continues its effort to protect Massachusetts Bay from contamination by liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals.

* SWIM worked to create a "No Discharge Area" in Massachusetts that would prevent increased pollution of Nahant waters.

SWIM is working to inform citizens about Nahant Causeway wind turbine proposal and its potential effect on  the birds and bats of Nahant.

SWIM is a cooperative effort of the citizens of Nahant, working independently, and at times joining forces with other environmental groups, to protect both Boston Harbor and Massachusetts Bay. Much of SWM's scientific and technical support comes from experts at local universities.  

SWIM continues to act as a watchdog group, quietly monitoring the monitors who test the results of the Massachusetts Bay cleanup.  We act locally, but our concerns are as broad as the environment.

Our "Wish List"

The following list of environmental issues facing Nahant is alphabetical, not in order of priority.  Please come to a SWIM meeting if you want to help with one of SWIM’s projects or spearhead a project of your own to help the environment! 

Acid Rain and Salem Harbor Power Plant.  Nahant is frequently downwind from the coal-fired Salem Power Plant, which produces the four criterial pollutants -- carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrous oxides, and particulates -- and other acid-rain producing and health-threatening by-products of electricity generation.

There are other options, and HealthLink, based on the North Shore, has been working for years to clean up the power plant. SWIM endorses HealthLink's work and works with HealthLink and other local environmental groups. The Conservation Law Foundation announced on January 27, 2010, that it intends to file a federal suit against Dominion Energy of New England for ongoing violations of smokestack emissions limits.

See the Health Link website for more: www.healthlink.org
Example right-aligned image
Salem Power Plant Plume, December 19, 2009
Photo by J. Barz-Snell

* Algae - The nuisance alga on Nahant and Lynn beaches is unpleasant to beachgoers and lowers real estate values.  Many thanks to the Nahant Department of Public Works and to Friends of Lynn & Nahant Beach for their work on algae cleanup and for protection of the beach on the Nahant Causeway.  See links to Friends of Lynn & Nahant Beach (www.lynn-nahantbeach.org). 

* Alternative and Renewable Energy - Including solar, tidal power, energy conservation, wind, etc. The challenge is to protect wildlife and fisheries while building environmentally responsible energy facilities and minimizing man-made global climate change.  Proposals (including the proposed wind turbines on the Nahant causeway) must be individually assessed to determine their impact on the environment.  Thanks to the Nahant Alternative Energy Committee for their work.

* Biomass Incineration - Biomass=wood waste, animal waste, municipal waste, tires, construction waste, sewage sludge, etc. Biomass incineration is a polluting and energy-wasting way to manage waste. Is this in the future for the Salem Power Plant?  See Massachusetts Forest Watch.  See Biomass Fact Sheet (www.maforests.org/Facts.pdf) and Energy Justice Network (www.energyjustice.net).

* Nahant Causeway Reconstruction Project -  Commissioner Rick Sullivan of the Mass Dept of  Conservation and Recreation, Rep. Steven Walsh and Sen. Tom McGee addressed the Nahant Selectmen’s Meeting on Thursday, January 7, 2010 to discuss progress on the Nahant Causeway Reconstruction project. 

Base project lighting will be the standard National Grid street light fixtures, with an option for historic lighting fixtures.  Wind turbine options will be considered in the future, but they will not be allowed to delay the base Causeway Reconstruction project.  The wind power proposal is not a part of this bid and will be a separate request. During reconstruction, the causeway road will be open and the parking lot will be available during all three summers. Thanks to the DCR and our elected officials!  This ~$20 million, three year project is underway. Click here to find out more about the Nahant Causeway Project.

* Climate Change/Global Warming - A map of Nahant showing areas under water if global warming triggers sea level rise is most revealing.   View and download a Google Map of what Nahant will look like if global warming continues.  The web site shows Nahant if sea level rises 8 meters.  If sea level rises only 3 meters (10 feet), the Nahant rotary and most of the causeway would be underwater.  You can play around with different sea level rises and different map/image types, and you can also look at the big picture: greater Boston under global warming, or anyplace else.  Venice, anyone?  See http://flood.firetree.net/?ll=42.4242,-70.9179&z=3&m=8. 

* Earth Day - SWIM distributed compost bins and rain barrels at cost for Earth Day 2008 and on Nahant Town Meeting day. A raffle for a non-polluting, solar-powered clothes dryer (umbrella in your back yard) was held for Town Meeting and Earth Day 2009, and the Town gave out water-saving shower heads at the SWIM table. Plans are underway for an Earth Day 2010 celebration on Nahant Town Meeting day featuring what you can do to minimize the plastic pollution threatening our oceans.   Watch for more details!

* Endangered Species - Six species of endangered whales and four species of endangered sea turtles frequent Massachusetts Bay. The International Union for Conservation of Nature reports that a quarter of mammal species are in danger of extinction. What can SWIM do to help save endangered marine species?  See www.iucn.org.

* Fisheries - SWIM keeps informed on fisheries issues, regulations and legislation that affect the environment, so neither fish nor fishermen become endangered species.  The Massachusetts Ocean Plan and the Presidential Ocean Policy are directly related to fisheries issues.

* Geographical Response Plan (GRP) Oil Spill Containment Plan - SWIM commented on the GRP meeting in Newburyport in September, 2009.  The Plan will help protect Nahant if an oil spill occurs, and equipment and training have been furnished to the Town.  There was some concern about apparent lack of coordination between the GRP's plan and the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA).  If the GRP is to achieve implementation, a way needs to be found to work with MEMA.  See http://grp.nukaresearch.com/NSgroup.htm.

* Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) - SWIM unsuccessfully fought offshore LNG terminals adjacent to Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary and above an old radioactive dump site. In February, 2008 a fully-loaded LNG tanker became disabled and went adrift off Cape Cod. It was towed to the future site of the offshore LNG terminal south of Gloucester, east of Nahant. Fortunately there was not a major Nor’easter at the time.   See Whale Center of New England, www.whalecenter.org

* Massachusetts Ocean Plan - SWIM testified in September, 2009 at the draft Mass. Ocean Plan hearing in Gloucester, saying that restoration of the marine ecosystem should be the first priority of the Plan.   Too much of the Plan seemed focused on what can be built in Massachusetts coastal waters and too little on the need to "value biodiversity and ecosystem health."  SWIM will continue to stay involved as the State plans to revise and update regulations this year to ensure consistency with the Ocean Management Plan.  The final Ocean Plan, promulgated January 4, 2010, may be found at the following website: Click Here For Link To Website.

No Discharge Area - Effective March 15, 2009, the coastal waters of Nahant, Swampscott, Lynn, Saugus, and Revere became a Federal/State No Discharge Area.

All commercial and recreational vessel sewage must be discharged to a pump-out facility or outside the Massachusetts 3-mile limit. SWIM was instrumental in working for this designation and informing  boaters.

See the State's website for more: www.mass.gov/czm.
Example right-aligned image

* Open Space - SWIM’s focus is on the sea, but we appreciate the work of the Nahant Open Space Committee. Migratory shore birds in particular need both water and land, and they need a clean environment for survival.  See www.massaudubon.org/Birds_and_Birding/IBAs.

* Pesticides/Greenscapes - We need to minimize use of pesticides and other chemicals by citizens and Town in order to minimize toxic runoff into Nahant waters. See http://www.greenscapes.org.

* Presidential Ocean Policy Task Force- SWIM testified in September, 2009 at the National Ocean Plan hearing in Providence, Rhode Island, urging that the National Ocean Plan focus on enhancing marine ecology and rebuilding fisheries, which are depleted worldwide.  With modern technology, we can destroy our seaward coastal zone as we have destroyed so much of the landward coastal zone.  See http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/ceq/initiatives/oceans.

* Recycling - The Town of Nahant has produced a comprehensive list of where, how, and when to dispose of and recycle various waste products, including hazardous and toxic items.  Thanks to the Town for Nahant's recycling program!  See www.nahant.org/services/trash.shtml.

* Toxics in Toys and Safer Alternatives - SWIM supports Clean Water Action and Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow in their efforts to make consumer products safe, especially for children.  See Clean Water Action of Massachusetts www.cleanwateraction.org/ma and Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow www.healthytomorrow.org.

SWIM can work on an issue only if someone volunteers to spearhead action.  SWIM cannot spend more than a small fraction of its time or funds lobbying.  SWIM tries to pick projects that can make some difference and that are within the capabilities of a small, local group like SWIM.

SWIM’s focus is on the North Shore ocean and seashore,
but we are part of one blue globe.

"Short Beach" Photo Credit: Robert A. Wilson

Note: Thanks for visiting us!!!!