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