board looks for answers
The state of the
town's water supply remains an open question in light of
increasing development and other strains on the system.
next three to six months, we will come to an agreement as to
when Hingham will run out of water -- the point at which we
can't pump anymore water without degradation of the environment
and when we can no longer meet the increasing demand," said
Water Supply Committee (WSC) member Daniel Coughlin. "We'll
have a planning number for how much time we have to go until
desalinization [is seriously considered] or cutbacks on water
usage need to be implemented." (The WSC and the Town of
Hull are currently in the process of considering a joint
The WSC met with the
Planning Board recently to discuss water-related issues and to
hear any concerns the Board might have.
the importance of allowing a 15 percent supply margin when
projecting Hingham's future water supply.
"There needs to
be either a dramatic increase in supply, such as desalinization,
or a dramatic change in demand, which could ultimately result in
a total outside water ban," said Coughlin.
The WSC is working
cooperatively with Aquarion Water Company, which provides water
to Hingham, Hull, and part of Cohasset, to find more regional
solutions to water supply problems.
Whether or not
bringing Free Street Well #4 online would provide an additional
source or equate to putting "another straw into the same
Coke bottle," is an issue, said WSC Chairman Peter
member Tod McGrath asked what would happen if when the contract
between Linden Ponds retirement community and the Town of
Cohasset -- which has contracted to supply water to the senior
campus - expires Cohasset finds it can no longer supply the
Coughlin explained that should that occur, the amount of water
required by Linden Ponds could be made up by "clamping down
on water usage" among Aquarion water users.
"But I think we
will have hit something [come across another source] by
then," he said. "We need to do something before the 20
years is up."
concern that Aquarion "has sort of a proprietary
self-interest in pumping more water" to increase its
Puciloski also noted
that Aquarion seems "anxious to sell water to the South
Weymouth Naval Air Station [from Well #4]," which would
require Department of Environmental Protection approval for an
inter-basin transfer. "I think they'll attempt to do
But, Puciloski said,
that wouldn't be possible if the safety margin Coughlin spoke
about was implemented.
member Susan Murphy said she would feel more comfortable if the
town would "engage our own engineer to look over the
shoulders" of those currently performing tests on Well #4
to determine its safe yield. It was noted that a consultant
working for the Conservation Commission is taking a look at the
It was also
suggested that coming up with a town agenda for dealing with
various water issues including the points of view of the
"major players" would be advantageous.
Coughlin noted that
Linden Ponds initially said it would get its water from "a
desalinization plant not yet on line, and the town nodded and
said, 'That's great.' I don't want that to happen again, because
when that didn't happen, [Linden Ponds developer] Erickson
[Retirement Communities] had to scurry around to find another
In the end, McGrath
said, it all comes down to "searching for the real truth as
to how much water we actually have."