“There’s something civil servants have that the private sector
doesn’t and that is the duty of loyalty to the greater good –
the duty of loyalty to the collective best interest of all rather
than the interest of a few.”
– David Walker, former U.S. Comptroller General
High Quality H2O
Who: Steve Sulprizio
What: Environmental Analyst
Where: Department of Conservation & Recreation
MOSES: Member since 2009.
As an analyst with DCR's Division of Water Supply Protection, Steve Sulprizio conducts water quality sampling of all the tributaries that feed the Wachusett Reservoir. The Wachusett, along with the Quabbin Reservoir, supplies 2.5 million people in and around Boston with drinking water. Steve also tracks stream discharge and snow melt to determine the amount of water that flows into the Wachusett Reservoir on a daily basis.
Who: Vito Cicerone
What: Engineering Aide
Where: Department of Fish & Game
MOSES: Member since 2007.
From boat ramps and fishing piers to canoe access and special event permitting, it is the Office of Fishing & Boating Access that designs, builds and maintains the Commonwealth's more than 275 locations along our coasts, ponds and rivers.
Who: Laura Conlee
What: Black Bear Project Leader
Where: Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife
MOSES: Member since 2008.
Bear is just one of the 14 furbearer species Laura Conlee monitors for the Commonwealth. On any given day she can be found tracking through the woods, educating a group of school children or helping a town understand why coyotes are in their backyard.
The MassDEP’s Inorganic Chemistry Lab at the Wall Experiment Station in Lawrence is responsible for the ongoing Mercury Initiative Program. The initiative, a multi-year cycle that visits and re-visits hundreds of different lakes and ponds in the state, is tasked with monitoring mercury levels in fish. Assisting scientists with this monumental task is the DMA-80 Mercury Analyzer. MassDEP Commissioner David Cash jokes, “It’s kind of like the Bass-O-Matic, but considerably more precise.”
Mercury, a highly toxic metal, is dangerous to both humans and the ecosystem. Women who are pregnant or nursing and young children are especially vulnerable to mercury poisoning. Mercury finds its way into fish and ultimately the food chain via emissions from power plants, as well as the burning of municipal solid wastes and medical wastes (no longer allowed in the state), among other sources. MassDEP’s aggressive regulatory initiative to further reduce mercury uses and emissions to the environment has resulted in significant improvements in the mercury contamination status of edible portions of freshwater fish here in the Commonwealth.
MOSES member Mike Hutcheson, director of the fish monitoring program at MassDEP, along with MOSES members Jane Rose and Carol Batdorf, as well as fellow DEP employees C. Mark Smith, Oscar Pancorbo, Carol Rowan West, Joseph Strube and Corey Francis, authors of Temporal and Spatial Trends in Freshwater Fish Tissue Mercury Concentrations Associated with Mercury Emissions Reductions, published in Environmental Science & Technology, conducted an in-depth, 12-year study of edible muscle from yellow perch and large mouth bass. For comparison purposes, the study samples were taken from 23 specific lakes, two to eight times between 1999 and 2011.
Hutcheson explains, “We collect samples from two distinct levels on the aquatic food chain. This year, in an effort to not decimate the population, we are changing the process and taking samples from the same dorsal area of 30 yellow perch and 15 large mouth bass on average, then releasing the fish back into the water.”
The analytical work completed at the Wall Experiment Station provides validated data by following rigorous quality control standards set forth by the EPA. The tissue samples collected ultimately land in the dedicated DMA-80 analyzer. Samples – up to 40 at a time – are placed into a tray, then a robotic arm loads each, one by one, into the furnace for drying and decomposition. By combining the techniques of thermal decomposition, catalytic conversion, amalgamation and atomic absorption spectrophotometry, all potential toxic waste is eliminated, yet accurate, detailed results are achieved.
Hutcheson concludes, “Mercury concentrations in fish have declined dramatically during this period of reductions in emissions. While MassDEP staff continue to push for further reductions, regionally and nationally, we as residents and consumers reap the benefits.”
MOSES members making a difference around the world. Each year, MOSES scientists and engineers donate their time to Engineers without Borders. Here is just a small sampling of the good and important work they do.
The Massachusetts Organization of State Engineers and Scientists
90 North Washington Street
Boston, MA 02114
617.367.2727 Contact Us