Monthly Archives: February 2014

Three MCWRS Communities Receive SWMI Grants

Members of the Massachusetts Coalition for Water Resources Stewardship (MCWRS) received the two largest grants announced in January as part of the state’s Sustainable Water Management Initiative (SWMI).

The Town of Franklin received the largest grant, $119,460 to conduct a regional evaluation of water management alternatives to reduce streamflow impacts in the Upper Charles River Watershed. The project will use an optimization framework to evaluate the effects of enhanced water conservation, alternative well pumping regimes, recharge of stormwater runoff, reducing groundwater leakage into sewer pipes, and alternative sources of water.

Next was the City of Worcester, which received a $119,040 grant to fund a feasibility study on removing the Patch Pond Dam. The dam is obsolete, unsafe, and detrimental to the aquatic biology of Tatnuck Brook. The feasibility study will include an infrastructure, habitat and sediment evaluation, hydrologic and hydraulics analyses, and the identification and evaluation of deconstruction and removal alternatives.

A third MCWRS member, the Town of Holden, received a $36,944 grant to fund a system-wide sectional flow monitoring program in order to reduce unaccounted for water (UAW) in the town. The town has conducted annual system-wide leak detection over the past two years, with numerous leaks found and repaired. However, there has not been a significant reduction in UAW. The sectional flow monitoring program will include master meter testing, master meter calibration, distribution system analysis and system model updates, detailed leak-detection efforts within high-flow areas, and lead repairs.

A total of 16 communities shared $1.1 million from the SWMI Grant Program, which seeks to improve degraded water resources and maintain healthy aquatic ecosystems. SWMI grants support projects that will improve the handling of wastewater and stormwater, conserve natural resources and ecosystem habitats, manage demand for water in municipalities and improve the water supply.

The complete list of 2014 SWMI grants is available on the website of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.

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Coalition Supports Water Infrastructure Bill

Phil Guerin (left) testifies in support of Senate Bill 1947, joined by Mark Wetzel of Ayer and Tom Philbin of the Massachusetts Municipal Association.

Phil Guerin (left) testifies in support of Senate Bill 1947, joined by Mark Wetzel of Ayer and Tom Philbin of the Massachusetts Municipal Association.

Municipal officials, legislators, and agency and environmental representatives testified before the Senate Committee on Bonding, Capital Expenditures and State Assets on Thursday, January 30, in support of Senate Bill 1947, An Act Improving Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure.

This bill is an important first step toward the Commonwealth addressing the significant shortfall in available funding for cities and towns to improve water systems infrastructure, as identified by the Water Infrastructure Finance Commission (WIFC). It also would introduce some reforms, incentives, and other measures recommended in the WIFC’s important 2012 report, “Massachusetts’s Water Infrastructure: Toward Financial Sustainability.”

Phil Guerin, president of the Massachusetts Coalition for Water Resources Stewardship, testified on a panel with Tom Philbin, Outreach and Advocacy Coordinator for the Massachusetts Municipal Association, and Mark Wetzel, Public Works Superintendent for the Town of Ayer.

Guerin, Director of Environmental Systems for the City of Worcester’s Department of Public Works & Parks, spelled out the need for the additional funding for water system infrastructure included in the bill. He pointed to the more than $1 billion in water projects either proposed by the city or mandated by environmental regulators. Without new funding sources, Worcester will not be able to complete these projects, jeopardizing its ability to provide essential water services, delaying environmental benefits and compliance, and stifling economic growth envisioned in the Route 20 corridor.

MCWRS also submitted written comments in support of the legislation, which is expected to be presented to the full Senate for deliberation in February. The Coalition urges supporters of more investment in water system infrastructure to contact their state senators and urge their support for Senate Bill 1947.