Launch Slideshow

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The Long and Winding Road

The Long and Winding Road

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    To make up for filling and grading 3,450 square feet of wetlands to accommodate vehicles, 7,000 square feet of wetlands were placed in another location of the project area. Photos: Stantec

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    The amphibian and reptile diversion and monitoring program required the construction of 4,400 feet of silt fencing along the edge of the disturbance. On the exterior of the silt fencing, buckets were spaced to capture any amphibians or reptiles that would have crossed the work zone. The buckets were monitored several times weekly and the captured animals were logged and released safely. The inset photo shows the Blanding's turtle.

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    This aerial image outlines project plans.

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    West Groton Water Supply District launched an aggressive test well program from 1999 to 2002 to determine the location of its future water well. The above timeline recounts the milestones West Groton completed to establish the well.

Agricultural land preservation. Part of the land acquired by the water district contains hayfields. The Massachusetts Division of Food and Agriculture didn't want to lose this as agricultural land, so the district agreed to continued haying of these fields by the former owner. The owner refrains from applying chemical fertilizers, which have the potential to contaminate the water supply.

Timeline: Approximately 2 months.

Change in land use. The new well's forest location is ideal because it's surrounded by nature, forever protected from development, and distanced from contamination sources.

But placing an 84-square-foot building on top of the well permanently changes the legal land use classification of this area from “recreation” to “building structure housing a well.” This required first local approval and then an act of the state legislature, which was subsequently signed into law by the governor.

Timeline: Approximately 5 months.

KEEPING EVERYONE IN THE LOOP

After seven years of searching for and permitting the new well site, construction began in the fall 2006 and was completed a year later.

The biggest lesson learned from the complex process, says Newell, was the importance of communication.

“The most challenging parts of the project were definitely the time and effort needed to satisfy all of the different stakeholders' concerns while moving the project forward,” he says. “Clearly communicating among the project team and the stakeholders makes all the difference.”

In many communities, most of the “easy” water sources are already developed. Future source development will require entering sensitive locations, much like the water district's project in Groton Memorial Town Forest. These locations will face more scrutiny and review, longer project timelines, and increased project costs. But with persistence, planning, and communication, there are ways to construct projects in environmentally sensitive areas in a responsible manner.

— Faulkner is a civil engineer in the Westford, Mass., office of Stantec.

Who: West Groton Water Supply District

Where: Groton, Mass., 40 miles northwest of Boston

Serves: 510 residential and 10 commercial customers with an average daily demand of 180,000 gallons