Wayland's Declining Water Supply
The Wayland area is experiencing a serious drought
“Watering Ban” signs around Town are a constant reminder and “Massachusetts drought” is often part of our local news.
I grew up in Southern California where water shortages are a constant challenge. So I decided to check on our local aquifer and well-based water system. It turns out that this “2016 drought” is a longer term trend and significant risk.
- Water in our aquifer has been steadily dropping for the past five years
The US Geological Survey (USGS) maintains a monitoring well near Lake Cochituate to track ground water. USGS data from this well shows that the average water level and annual high / low have all been dropping steadily for the past five years. Graphs of this data are attached, in PDF format.
- Two Wayland wells ran dry in 2015
During the height of the summer last year, two of Wayland’s wells ran so low that the pumps automatically shut off. This cut water volume and pressure. More important, there is no quick and easy fix. It takes time to obtain a permit from the Commonwealth to drill a deeper well, and to drill deeper and re-install the pump. Water shortages call for long term preparation, not last-minute catch up.
- Water shortages affect Wayland’s fire department and homeowners
As water supplies decline, Wayland fire hydrants may not be able to deliver the volume of water our fire department needs if they rush to your home to put down a fire. This was highlighted in the ‘water study’ done for the Rivers Edge development. The only ‘real world’ test they ran was for the water supply from
a nearby hydrant, for fire safety.
- Water shortages affect development
If Wayland does not have enough water to support our existing residents, and well levels are steadily dropping, how can we add new developments with hundreds of new residents? This is a common issue in the Western US, where limited water limits development.
- What can Wayland do?
We need to start the conversation in Wayland that western states struggled with for years. Wayland can also leverage decades of work and tested solutions; we do not have to start from scratch. For example, the Wayland Board of Selectmen could pass a regulation requiring low-flow shower heads, toilets and faucets – the Big Three that consume over 50% of the water in every Wayland home. This is a proven solution that will also save money for Wayland homeowners.
The Board of Selectmen can also use well-vetted regulations drafted by other cities, e.g. Los Angeles and New York City, that Wayland can simply copy and edit to match our community. (Attached is a copy of 2014 regulations from Los Angeles, and a report from California on water conservation measures.)
One thing we should all know: delay is a bad option. The hard reality of a dry well should be in the back of our minds, as we debate this problem. The Wayland Board of Selectmen should begin planning and budgeting – now - to be ready for next summer.
Copies of key documents are attached for your review. Let me know if you have any questions: MarkAllenHays@Gmail.com
Wayland's aquifer dropped to record low on 29 September:
The US Geological Survey monitoring well at Cochituate State Park in Wayland dropped to a record low on Thursday, 29 September: 17.89 feet below the surface. This was the lowest level at this well in all of the USGS data available online, which starts on 1 October, 2011.
Update: Wayland's aquifer continued to decline from 2011 through 2016
I just downloaded and processed the last few months of USGS data from the Cochituate monitoring well. These data show that the average water level steadily declined, along with the maximum and minimum levels. Clearly this is a significant issue for Wayland and nearby towns / cities that pull water from wells in this aquifer.
I sent an updated letter and a copy of the Excel spreadsheet and graphs to the Wayland Board of Selectmen, Planning Board, Finance Committee, Surface Water Quality Committee, Board of Public Works and Conservation Commission. Hopefully they will take action. This should include regulations limitations on the flow from faucets, showers and toilets -- the Big Three that consume most residential water. More efficient watering should also be required in the summer, e.g. drip irrigation. How can Wayland continue to add hundreds of new housing units, when the water supply for current residents is shrinking -- without taking significant steps to conserve water consumption? Copies of the graphs are included below.
In addition, Framingham recently received approval and more than a $million from the Commonwealth to restart their wells into the same declining aquifer. This makes no sense, and could cause dry wells and water emergencies in surrounding towns -- plus increased costs to drill new, deeper wells. See: http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/ar...NEWS/160107768
Please let me know if you have any questions: MarkAllenHays@Gmail.com
Tags for this Thread