Office of Water Policy:
Water Assets and Water Budgets
A series of studies have been undertaken to help local communities understand the impacts of water use in their area, and the limited nature of water as a resource. With a mapping tool developed to help identify lands critical for the protection of current and future water supplies, and analyses developed to assess the current and potential water supply capacity as well as the current and potential water demands, each study represents a significant step forward in better understanding both the potential and the limitations water holds for future growth.
Water Assets Community and Regional Reports
In 2004, EEA prepared individual Community Water Assets Reports for 130 municipalities in the I-495 beltway. The community-specific reports help local leaders evaluate their current water uses and future water demands. Current water use in each community is compared to permitted or registered volumes. Using community-specific projections derived from EEA's Buildout Map and Analysis Project (1999-2001), the Water Asset reports also looked at the estimated future water demand of each community under build-out conditions, and how future use may be affected by permit or registration limits. Lastly, through a series of GIS maps, each report presented information on how existing and future land use may impact water supplies and critical habitat. Regional Reports were also developed that summarized the individual community information using a watershed perspective.
In most cases the public water suppliers currently have sufficient sources to meet the yearly average demands of their current clientele. Yet, in every watershed in the study area, the average daily demand for water during the peak month of use strains local supplies, causing impacts in each basin during the commonly drier months of July and August. Implementing effective water conservation measures would help communities meet additional future demands within their current regulatory limits. However if each community's full build-out scenario were to occur, most would significantly exceed their existing permitted or registered volumes and be challenged to reconcile their future water needs and growth management practices with regulatory limits and potable water supply.
This assessment is intended to provide a framework for long-term public water supply planning, and protection of essential ecosystems. Where the Water Assets focused primarily on water supplies and the impact land use may have on them, the Water Budgets takes a broader look at the human impact (i.e. inflow and outflow) on groundwater, streams and watersheds primarily via public drinking water and wastewater systems. The result is an assessment of where there are subwatersheds out of balance in hydrological terms.
With the Water Budget in hand, communities can better understand the impact of their withdrawals as well as discharges into specific environmental regions. In planning for the future, they can consider the impact of well placement as well as waste water discharge placement, and seek ways to improve the overall balance of their resource, through both withdrawals from the system and inputs to the system. A sample water budget review, developed for the Plymouth-Carver Aquifer region, is available here file size 11MB .
Protecting Critical Lands
One component of the EEA Water Assets studies for local communities is a series of maps identifying, among other things, critical environmental resources and the status of land development in those towns.
For more information on these projects, as well as access to the reports, contact John Clarkeson, EOEEA Assistant Director of Water Policy, 617-626-1175.
Public Water Supply Service Territories, Download GIS data which delineates areas potentially served by larger public water suppliers, as of January 2004, developed for the Water Assets Study
This information is provided by the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, Office of Water Policy