In the name of clean water

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Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick has signed the Oceans Act of 2008, which will require Massachusetts to be the first state in the nation to develop a comprehensive plan to manage development in state waters, and balance natural resource preservation with alternative uses such as renewable energy, according to a recent press release.

“This is a significant, one-of-a-kind legislation that sets specific guidelines for development projects in our state waters and provides safeguards for the health and preservation of our ocean,” Senate president Therese Murray (D-Plymouth) said in the release.

The Oceans Act also requires the state’s Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs to develop a comprehensive ocean-management plan, following a scientific and stakeholder process leading to a draft plan by summer 2009. The deadline for the ocean plan is December 31, 2009, according to the release.

The bill, which was signed at the New England Aquarium in Boston, has been pending in the state legislature since 2004 and won the approval of the Senate, the House and Patrick to become law in May.

In addition, the commonwealth is moving toward a statewide no-discharge zone for boat effluent along its entire coastline. The Federal Environmental Protection Agency recently deemed the waters of Scituate,Marshfield, Cohasset and the tidal portions of the North and South rivers a no-discharge zone, according to Todd Callaghan, no-discharge area coordinator for the state.

— Elizabeth Ellis