WATER SUPPLY/Town gets permits for sensitive expansion project
Usually, when municipalities or other governmental entities seek permits for new water supplies, they have to jump through numerous regulatory hoops to get approval. But, when faced with the need to increase water supply, Duxbury, Mass., outlined a strategy that resulted in new permits with little hassle.
Duxbury, an affluent seaside residential community of 14,890 people, needed permits from three independent state agencies – the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs (EOEA), the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) and the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) – to withdraw water from a new source.
Duxbury officials knew they would face opposition; the aquifer in question underlay a pond next to a land preserve. Additionally, the site abutted a regional conservation preserve of the Massachusetts Audubon Society. Because of the potential environmental effects, state and local regulatory requirements would be stringent. The town devised a four-part strategy for obtaining permits: 1. Demonstrate water need based on future demand projections and water quality issues; 2. Demonstrate responsible management by reducing the residents’ per-capita water consumption rate through an effective water conservation and public education program; 3. Obtain unassailable hydro- geological, wetlands and other environmental and scientific data; and 4. Aggressively pursue the public interest need for potable, high quality water to sustain future growth.
Duxbury’s final water withdrawal permit included an agreement among all parties with two critical conditions: The town had to undertake a five-year vegetation and water level monitoring program for wetlands and water resources to ensure no adverse effects from pumping the new well. Officials also had to sustain the water levels of the marsh and Great Pond as set by data from the hydro-geological studies.
By adhering to environmental regulations and performing research on the area to be tapped as a water source, Duxbury was able to obtain the necessary permits for pumping in 1999. That will ensure a sufficient water supply for residents without disturbing other users or the environment.
Walter Tonaszuck, director of public works, Duxbury, Mass., and Daniel Garson, senior vice president, Woodard & Curran, Dedham, Mass.