For Immediate Release - July 26, 2012

PATRICK-MURRAY ADMINISTRATION AWARDS DRINKING WATER SUPPLY PROTECTION GRANTS TO WORCESTER AND DANVERS

Grants will protect 78 acres of watershed land to benefit eight communities

PAXTON – Thursday, July 26, 2012 – Lieutenant Governor Timothy P. Murray and Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Rick Sullivan today awarded $800,000 in grants to the cities of Worcester and Danvers to protect 78 acres of watershed land.

“Cities and towns as well as our Administration understand the value of our drinking water supply and land resources across the state,” said Lieutenant Governor Murray. “That is why, we are pleased to partner with the awarded communities to protect the integrity of local properties and ensure communities have clean and safe water.”

EEA’s Drinking Water Supply Protection program, which has protected 2,491 acres of land since 2005, provides funds to assist cities and towns throughout the Commonwealth in protecting the quality and quantity of public drinking water supply sources.

“Water is one of our most precious natural resources and protecting the supply in these two communities will ensure residents have access to clean water for years to come,” said Secretary Sullivan.

The City of Worcester received a $400,000 grant to acquire the Muir Meadow property in Paxton and Leicester. The parcel includes fields, wooded uplands, streams and a portion of a pond which drains into Worcester’s Lynde Brook Reservoir, part of the Worcester water supply serving about 200,000 people in Worcester and five surrounding communities.

This 57-acre property is an existing water supply source for the communities of Worcester, Auburn, Paxton, Holden, Millbury, and West Boylston and involves a partnership among the city of Worcester, the towns of Paxton and Leicester and the Greater Worcester Land Trust.

"We are absolutely delighted by the purchase,” said Allen Fletcher, president of the Greater Worcester Land Trust. “It connects to the very first piece of land we acquired, and we have been after it for a long, long time."

The property is an important link to existing protected open space, providing links to hiking trails and wildlife corridors. This project will complete nearly 13 miles of contiguous protected land stretching from Rutland to Leicester and protect it from development, which could pose a threat to the reservoir. The property will be open to the public for passive recreation.

The City of Danvers received a $400,000 grant to acquire Lebel’s Grove property, which will aid in protecting 21 acres of land that is an existing water supply source for both Danvers and Middleton. This project will protect one of the largest remaining undeveloped parcels in Danvers. The property includes 1,000 feet of frontage on the Ipswich River and wells serving Danvers. The site of a former camp, the property contains a mix of forest and open fields. It will be open to the public for recreational purposes, including trail access to the town forest. The property is in a highly desirable location for development.

EEA’s Department of Environmental Protection is also coordinating with Danvers on a pilot project to evaluate the Sustainable Water Management Initiative framework – an effort focused on balancing water supply needs with ecological protection and restoration. This is a statewide effort, but it will be especially important in places like the Ipswich River watershed, which includes Danvers.

“I’m proud to be working with an Administration that understands the importance of projects such as this one,” said Senator Frederick Berry. “The monies provided in this grant will not only protect and enhance one of our most precious resources; it will encourage the community to rediscover the abundance of natural beauty found along the river banks for generations to come.”

“I applaud the Patrick-Murray Administration for their continued commitment to protecting our natural resources. This project in particular will ensure that one of our most precious resources, our local water supply, remains safe for Central Massachusetts residents and businesses,” said Senator Harriette Chandler.

“I am especially pleased that Governor Patrick and his Administration have recognized the importance of this purchase,” said Representative Ted Speliotis. “As everyone knows the Ipswich River, as a water supply, is one of the most endangered rivers in the Commonwealth. I’m also appreciative of the Administration’s support as it will relieve our local property taxpayers and provide greater flexibility for the towns as they look to preserve as much open space as possible.”

“I am extremely grateful for the work of Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray, the Greater Worcester Land Trust, and the Town of Paxton for assisting the City of Worcester in its acquisition of the Muir Meadows land parcel for the purpose of protecting our water supply,” said Worcester City Manager Michael V. O’Brien. “This acquisition and the stewardship of the Land Trust and the Town of Paxton will ensure that this parcel remains an open space gem to be enjoyed by the public for generations to come.”  

“I want to thank the Patrick-Murray Administration for announcing this grant for infrastructure improvements at Muir Meadows,” said Worcester Mayor Joseph M. Petty. “Protecting the quality of our public drinking supply now is of the utmost importance for guaranteeing safe and secure public water for our future generations. I applaud the partnerships between the state and local governments along with the Greater Worcester Land Trust which have made Muir Meadows a success.”

EEA previously awarded two additional grants to the City of Gardner for the Otter River Project and the City of Cambridge for the DeNormandie project, which were announced in January 2012.

Funding for Drinking Water Supply Protection grants comes from the Energy and Environment Bond Bill signed by Governor Patrick in 2008. 

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