For Immediate Release - March 18, 2013

Patrick-Murray Administration Grants Nearly $929,000 to Assist Communities with Water Conservation, Demand Management Projects

Awards will Remove Dams, Increase Waterway Flow, Recharge Aquifers, Support Habitat

BOSTON – Monday, March 18, 2013 – The Patrick-Murray Administration announced today that nearly $929,000 in grant funding has been approved to assist 11 communities with water conservation, demand management and other projects that will help to mitigate the ecological impacts of water withdrawals.

The grants are part of the Sustainable Water Management Initiative (SWMI), which is an effort by the Massachusetts Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) and its agencies to maintain healthy rivers and streams and improve degraded water resources over time.

“Protecting our fresh water supports economic development in our cities and towns and preserves our natural resources for the next generation,” said Governor Deval Patrick.

The SWMI Grant Program will help water suppliers by providing grants for planning projects for specific watersheds, developing implementation projects to improve ecological conditions and managing projects aimed at reducing the demand for water within a municipality or watershed.

The grants will also support mitigation projects that will increase in-stream flow, improve the handling of wastewater and stormwater, upgrade ecosystem habitat, manage water demand and improve the water supply.

“Communities need to balance the need for drinking water with the ecological health of the water body from which they draw their water,” said EEA Secretary Rick Sullivan. “These grants will help these 11 water suppliers determine the best way for them to conserve their water resources, but in a way that will complement any future economic development needs.”

This first round of capital funding grants has been approved for the following communities: Amherst, Brockton, Dedham-Westwood Water District, Franklin, Halifax, Hopkinton, Kingston, Medway, Pembroke, Scituate, and Worcester.

“A number of communities in the Commonwealth have implemented water conservation measures, but we need to do more to protect our water supplies and the ecosystems they support,” said Commissioner Kenneth Kimmell of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP). “These projects will help to remove dams, increase waterway flow, recharge aquifers by keeping local water within its own watershed, and reduce the daily demand for water.”

“The Department of Fish and Game has been pleased to work with Secretary Sullivan and MassDEP on sustainable water criteria to better protect fish and other aquatic resources,” said Commissioner Mary Griffin of the Massachusetts Department of Fish & Game. “SWMI projects like those funded in Brockton, Scituate and Worcester will apply tested restoration techniques to improve river habitat.”   

Two of the proposed projects – in Brockton and Halifax – are connected to the same group of ponds, lakes and rivers, and will be implemented cooperatively to provide project cost savings. The grants for each project will help with water withdrawal issues being addressed in the Jones River, Silver Lake, Monponsett Ponds, Stump Brook, the North River and the Taunton River.

“I’m happy with the Patrick Administration’s release of these grants,” said Sen. Marc R. Pacheco, Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture. “The issues posed by water withdrawal remain a notable problem in our community, and these grants will help address that situation.”

“I commend the Patrick-Murray Administration, Secretary Sullivan and Commissioner Kimmell for their continued support of our communities and for their assistance in these essential projects,” said Rep. Anne Gobi, House Chair of the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture. “These grants will be extremely helpful and are one step closer to maintaining healthy waterways throughout the Commonwealth.”

SWMI is intended to guide management of water in the Commonwealth so that there is enough for the many and sometimes competing long-term water needs of communities and aquatic ecosystems. The final SWMI framework is a plan that will, for the first time, put in motion Water Management Act regulations that implement “stream-flow” criteria, which are science-based standards to ensure that streams do not dry up.

The following are the SWMI projects proposed for funding:

Amherst: Wastewater Reuse Study – $105,527

Brockton: Silver Lake and Jones River Fish Passage and Water Supply Management Project – $84,762

Dedham-Westwood Water District: Neponset Water Management Act Planning Project – $116,332

Franklin: Well Pumping and Recharge Strategies for Stream-flow Augmentation – $75,000

Halifax: Monponsett Ponds and Silver Lake Water Use Operations and Improvements – $65,238

Hopkinton: Stormwater Recharge and Infiltration Planning – $58,989

Kingston: Supply Management Protocol – $74,000

Medway: Feasibility Cost/Benefit Analysis of Minimization, Mitigation and Offsets – $99,197

Pembroke: Quantifying Benefits and Indentifying Areas for Recharge – $54,980

Scituate: First Herring Brook Passage Improvements – $55,380

Worcester: Poor Farm Pond Dam Removal Feasibility Study – $139,500

For more information on the SWMI framework and water withdrawals under the Water Management Act, turn to: www.mass.gov/eea/swm.