I thought we have plenty of water, so why is the Task Force recommending significant conservation?

We are fortunate, thanks to the foresight of townspeople 100+ years ago, that our supply is relatively stable and meets our current demands. This puts us in a much better situation than our neighbors who rely on the Ipswich River Basin (or any other stressed water basin).  But our plentiful supply is endangered by more-frequent droughts and by unsafe levels of PFAS, as is the case for many water systems. For instance, Cambridge MA had an excellent water supply via Fresh Pond, until suddenly increased PFAS levels shut down that local water supply. Cambridge shifted to the MWRA Quabbin Reservoir system, thanks to an existing connection to MWRA water. (We don’t have the option of connecting to MWRA.) If PFAS levels exceed the new EPA standards (now under review), we may have to shut down Lincoln Street Well which supplies 40% of our drinking water. This would trigger an immediate water crisis, which could only be solved locally through increased treatment and/or conservation.

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1. Where does our water come from?
2. I thought we have plenty of water, so why is the Task Force recommending significant conservation?
3. What is the water rate tier structure?
4. Why did the Water Task Force recommend changing the Water Rates?
5. How would the proposed rate changes affect me?
6. Won’t the proposed water rates unfairly penalize large families?
7. When could the Water Rates change?
8. The Task Force recommended lowering the Tier 1 rate – isn’t that an incentive to consume more and not to conserve?
9. Why not institute an increased rate structure for summer months only?
10. I hear that new digital “smart” water meters are being considered for all water users in town. When will they be installed?
11. Would the proposed rates also affect my separate meter for irrigation?
12. Are the sewer rates also going up?
13. I have a tenant who’s also on my water meter – how will that be handled?
14. Will everyone in the Top 20% see higher water bills under the recommended new rates?
15. I’ve heard that the State recommends 65 gallons/day per person. Is that a regulation?
16. What is the quality and cost of Manchester’s water?
17. If enough households cut their summer water usage, wouldn’t that bankrupt our Water Division?
18. How can I conserve more drinking water?
19. Do we really want to encourage high usage households to drill their own irrigation wells?
20. What’s my water usage over the past 10 years?
21. Is everyone eventually going to get a digital smart water meter?
22. Where can I read the findings of the Water Task Force?
23. Isn’t this just a disguised tax increase aimed at larger properties?
24. What if these new rates are enacted but don’t encourage much water conservation?