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Why a Total Outside Watering Ban?

by Jeff Weise
July 16, 2012

Why did the present "Total Outside Watering Ban" suddenly happen?

Why did the present "Total Outside Watering Ban" suddenly happen?

Two reasons:  Within the past few weeks an objectionable color was noted in the water coming out of the Well 6 Treatment Facility.  Until the cause could be further investigated and remedied the output from Well #6 had to be to be shut down.  Coupling the loss of that water with the recent exceptionally warm weather and sharp increase in outside watering resulted in a noticeable drop in the water level in the storage tanks.  Water was being withdrawn at a rate faster than in could be replaced.
 
Holliston has five storage tanks. However, water in tanks is not "stored" there for routine consumption.  It is there to provide the pressure needed to mechanically force water through water distribution system (pipes) and to provide a sudden massive surge of water should it be needed at the hydrants by the Fire Department.  The top water level in all five of Holliston's tanks is at the same height above sea level.
 
The pumping limit that people ofter hear referred to is an annual limit (averaging a little over one million gallons per day) that is imposed on Holliston by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).  This is an environmental issue, a regulatory issue but not a capacity issue. We have been at or just slightly below that limit for the past several years.  Exceeding that limit could result in financial penalties and could affect future growth.
 
Siting a new well is a difficult, time consuming and expensive process -- finding an appropriate new well site and making it operational can take about 10 years and cost in excess of $10 million.  Fortunately the Holliston Water Department recently cleared all of the hurdles and is now on track to operating a new well, "7", this year.  #7 is close to and will be tied into the treatment plant for Well #6.  Opening this well will also raise Holliston's DEP imposed pumping limit.
 
In 2010 rising levels of iron in the water at Well #4 overwhelmed that Water Treatment Plant, causing that well to then be taken off line.  Subsequently a new, far more effective treatment process was identified, low interest funding was obtained, a construction bid has been awarded and pumping at Well 4 is now on target to resume production in 2013.
 
At this time there is no DEP or other limit on digging and using private wells.  However, water from such wells will not routinely contain fluoride, for dental care, and does require independent purification for potable use.  Also, all of the water in Holliston does come from the same underground aquifers.
 
The Holliston Water Department is not staffed for nor does it want to become the "Water Police."  Yes, there are existing bylaws that provide fines for flagrant violations and, "yes" the Town's water billing system now does maintain daily records of use.  However, it is hoped that when there is a problem that affects everyone all residents will respond appropriately for the common good.
 
Should you have further questions or concerns, the Board of Water Commissioners does hold public meeting at Town Hall, starting at 6PM every other week and you are welcome to attend.
 
Jeff Weise
Holliston Board of Water Commissioners

PS:  As of this writing the situation at the Well 6 treatment plant has improved and, thanks to public cooperation, the level of water in the tanks is reported to be also rising.  It is hoped that water usage will quickly return to normal summer restrictions.

 

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Comments (6)

Dont worry John, I am one of the children. it will get taken care of eventually. what you are referring to is a problem not only holliston but of the entire country. our infraststructure as a whole is crumbliing.

- andrew mades | 7/18/12 5:57 PM

Thank you, Jeff, for all of this detailed information. It is of course a very frustrating situation for many businesses and families who have put $ into greenery, gardens, flowers, etc. to have to watch helplessly while all of it toasts away in the sun, but that frustration is mitigated somewhat by your full and forthright explanation of the causes.

- Dan Haley | 7/17/12 4:33 PM

Thank you for this clear, informative explanation.

- Susan | 7/17/12 1:52 PM

Great article with a lot of excellent information, thanks!

- Mark | 7/17/12 11:17 AM

How much of the problem is because we don't spend enough on the system, including the leaking pipes. instead we seem to prefer to leave the problems to our children and grandchildren.

- john | 7/17/12 11:14 AM

Jeff - appreciate your informative response.

- Kevin Conley | 7/17/12 10:14 AM

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