Mattapoisett could see restrictions on their water usage in the year 2015 if the state passes a new law requiring towns to file for a permit regulating their water usage. The issue was discussed at the Mattapoisett Board of Selectmen’s regular meeting on Tuesday, January 8 in Mattapoisett Town Hall.
“What we’re dealing with here is something that all communities are going to deal with,” said Patrick O’Neale, Vice President of Tata & Howard Water and Wastewater Consultants. “Conservation efforts will be pretty extreme.”
Mattapoisett currently has two permitted wells, which means the wells draw more than 100,000 gallons per day. By law, each well in a town drawing more than that needs to be permitted. Mattapoisett signed a 20-year contract under these conditions, which expired in 2011. However, the state passed a permit extension act, which gives towns until 2015 to file for permitting.
O’Neale has been working with the Mattapoisett Sewer Commission in order to research and best prepare for the conservation efforts. The Commission’s main concern is that the state is so concerned with environmental preservation that there is little to no science in their research showing that water limitations would improve each community.
Under the new permits, the state would regulate the amount of water regulated according to each town’s baseline usage. If the town surpasses the baseline usage, certain mitigation solutions would be implemented to control the water amount. Proposed solutions are droughts and increased billing statements so residents can monitor their water usage.
Massachusetts Water Works, however, is working in conjunction with towns across the state to research how much water is being used and to come up with a figure that would be acceptable. The idea is to have this figure into place long before the 2015 deadline in order to make sure the towns are well-informed of the reality of their water needs versus that which the state hopes to regulate.
In addition to concerns that the new permit would not provide enough water for the towns, they are worried what will happen when the population in town increases in the summer. Also, the Commission is concerned that the regulations could increase water rates.
“It’s certainly something I never thought I would be seeing,” said Sewer Commissioner William Nicholson. “You want to sell as much water as you can. They’re kind of holding our hands and making it more difficult. You will be billing out less and rates will increase.”
The Board commended the Commission for getting a head start on their research for this matter. They hope to amend current water conservation bylaws at the Spring Town Meeting in 2014 when they receive more results of the Commission’s research.
“I think we just need to do more talking about this so more people are aware that this is going to happen,” said Nicholson.
In other news, the Board agreed to write a letter to N-Star upon the request of resident John Folino which would ask them to send crews out and survey how much it would cost to convert properties south of Route 6 along the water to natural gas.
According to Folino, when a hurricane hits, it can cause damage to propane tanks, oftentimes making them float and therefore causing spills. The owner of that propane tank is liable and could incur damage charges as a result of the spills. He suggested to the Board to look into natural gas because it would be less of a liability for the properties along the water and it is also cheaper than the other energy alternatives.
The Board saw no problem in researching what it would cost to install natural gas lines. However, Highway Supervisor Barry Denham was concerned that it could cause problems with the plans to repave Mattapoisett Neck Road.
“That is one of the biggest tear-ups of roadways,” said Denham. “We have a number of mains that need to be renewed. They have a lot of old stuff in the ground that needs to be upgraded and I’d hate to see them get on an installation kick for new stuff and neglect some of the old stuff.”
The Board agreed to write the letter keeping in mind the current plans to repave the roads.
Town Administrator Michael Gagne informed the Board that Plymouth County will be eligible for Hurricane Sandy Reimbursement from FEMA. The announcement was made last week.
“This is excellent news,” said Gagne.
The Mattapoisett Board of Selectmen will meet again on Tuesday, January 22 at 7:00 pm in Mattapoisett Town Hall.
By Katy Fitzpatrick