Select Board Meets to Discuss Drought Impact
The Holliston Select Board held a rare mid-week, mid-day meeting prompted by the urgent need for water at the Pinecrest Golf Course. Mr. Ahern and Mr. Sparrell were on vacation. Vice-chair John Cronin called the remote meeting to order at 3:00pm. Board Clerk Mrs. Hein, Asst Town Administrator / HR Director Kathleen Buckley, and Facilities Manager James Keast were present in the Select Board’s meeting room.
Mr. Cronin prefaced the conversation by reminding everyone that effective July 23, 2022, the Town enacted stricter outdoor water usage guidelines ->https://hollistonreporter.com/2022/07/additional-water-use-restrictions-effective-saturday-july-23-2022/
Golf Course Advisory Committee Chair Deb Moore (below) outlined the situation. The water supply from the golf course well and storage pond is not sufficient to keep the tees and greens hydrated.
Bill Harrison, President of New England Golf Corporation, the firm that manages the course added financial data to the discussion. The course has been earning approximately $300,000 / year. If sufficient water is not applied to the tees / greens, the grass on those areas would die. The course would lose revenue this season as a result, and it would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to rebuild the tees / greens.
The request from Mrs. Moore and Mr. Harrison was to temporarily link the golf course to the Town water supply (through an unused existing connection) and draw about 16,000 gallons per day to water seven of the eighteen holes. A temporary connection because Mr. Harrison expects rain and cooler temperatures to return by mid-August.
Mr. Keast shared a presentation that outlines the current situation, short-term options, and long-term options as shown in the slides below.
Mr. Cronin and Mrs. Hein received input from DPW Director, Sean Reese (below), Fire Chief Michael Cassidy, and Select Board Chair (the last two via written statement).
Mr. Reese (above) stated that the Town wells are already producing about 800,000 fewer gallons / day. The water department calculates that each town water user uses about 68 gallons / day. He didn’t have the calculation handy. (I did some math – if the course used 16,000 gallons / day that would be roughly equivalent to adding 235 new users to the Town’s system.) Mr. Reese concluded by saying that from his perspective – such use of the Town water supply is, “not advisable.”
Chief Cassidy’s input, read by ATA / HR Director Buckley, referenced the current Level 3 drought conditions and the need to safeguard the Town’s water supply for residents and fire suppression. He was not in favor of the request to use town water to supplement the course’s water supply.
Chair Sparrell’s message, also read by Ms. Buckley, expressed opposition to the use of Town water at this time. Rather he supports the use of Golf Course operating budget funds to provide stopgap aid. He offered the option to revisit the situation at a future date when the full Board is present.
- Mrs. Hein:
- She is not surprised by this situation given what we know about climate change.
- She considers Mr. Reese and Chief Cassidy input very strongly.
- Mr. Cronin:
- Received guidance from MA DEP that great care should be exercised in adding water users during this time of critical drought (see below)
- Public: None
A motion was made by Mr. Cronin and seconded by Mrs. Hein that the Pinecrest golf course exercise Option 3 from Mr. Keast’s list (above) and use its operating funds to purchase tankers of water from private vendors to replenish the Pinecrest storage pond as a short-term solution. With the option to revisit the need in 7 – 10 days.
The motion was unanimously approved.
Mrs. Moore inquired if other Holliston businesses (like the golf course) will be negatively impacted by the drought conditions.
The meeting was adjourned at 3:45pm.
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