Water Resources Protection Task Force
By Gregory T. Federspiel
The re-establishment of a water resources protection group is getting underway. Following suggestions from residents and with the leadership help of Steve Gang, Chairman of the Conservation Commission, the Selectmen have approved the creation of a new task force as a sub-committee of the Conservation Commission. A water resources protection committee was created back in 1989 when voters approved the creation of the committee and funded a comprehensive report on the Town’s water resources (the Horsley Witten Report of 1990.) Many of the recommendations of this report were carried out in the 1990’s after which the committee became inactive.
The new Task Force is charged with reviewing the 1990 report, updating it, and recommending additional action steps the Town should take to ensure an adequate and high-quality water supply for residents for the long-term. It is anticipated that the Task Force will need 12 to 18 months to complete its work. Consultants expert in hydrology and other related sciences likely will be hired to assist.
Membership in the Task Force is comprised of representatives from numerous boards and committees – the Conservation Commission, the Board of Selectmen, the Board of Health, the Planning Board, the Open Space and Recreation Committee and the Stream Team. In addition, up to 6 “at large” members will be appointed. Each represented board or committee will choose their representatives who will be confirmed by the Selectmen. Residents interested in serving as one of the “at large” members should send a letter of interest to the Selectmen’s office at Town Hall. Interviews at an upcoming Selectmen’s meeting will be arranged. Staff support from the DPW, Planning Department and Town Administrator’s office will be provided.
The Town is fortunate to have adequate supplies of drinking water, but it behooves us to make sure this is the case for decades to come. Complicating forecasting into the future is the impacts climate change is bringing. While it may be that our part of the world becomes wetter, we could also face periods of more severe draught and rising sea levels could impact the salinity of ground water – a particular concern for the Lincoln Street well. These and many other factors need to be researched for their impacts on our water supply.
The Town draws water from Gravelly Pond and from the Lincoln Street Well. Water from Gravely Pond and the surrounding area is treated at the Town’s water treatment plant that sits near the pond. Gravelly Pond is fed by surface water runoff, springs and a near-by well. Much of the land in the area is protected from development. The Lincoln Street well is fed into the water system directly after being chlorinated. It draws water from about 80 feet down tapping into groundwater that is part of the Sawmill Brook watershed.
Deliverables from the Task Force will include updates to the 1990 Report, priority action steps needed to enhance our water resource protection efforts and recommendations for how we ensure we build in long term responsibility and accountability for managing our water resources.
The Town is fortunate to have talented and dedicated volunteers willing to assist in this important work. Let us hear from you if you would like to join those already appointed to the Task Force.