Water Issues Highlighted at Wellesley Library_Oct2010
Water Issues Highlighted at Wellesley LibraryBy Peter Rovick – Wellesley Trails Committee26OCT10http://crwa.org/articles/2010/waterissuesatlibrary.htmlThese days, the song title You’ve Come A Long Way Baby might be a more accurate tag line for theCharles River than the ever-popular Dirty Water played on local radio and at Red Sox games. That said,we have a long way to go to maintain the Charles and area waters if hoping even to maintain conditionsfor the water sources that serve all of us.The Wellesley Trails Committee and the Wellesley Garden StudyGroup sponsored an event on October 26 at the Wellesley FreeLibrary entitled Water: Our Most Valuable Resource. Featuredspeaker Kate Bowditch, Director of Projects, for the Charles RiverWatershed Association (CRWA) engaged the audience with insightsinto important water issues facing the town of Wellesley and the stateof Massachusetts. Diane Hall, member of the CRWA Board ofDirectors and member of the Wellesley Trails Committee, was theprimary event planner and introduced Kate, noting that the CharlesRiver, once one of the most polluted urban rivers in the USA, is nowone of the cleanest in the nation. Diane also pointed to a poster boardwhich showed how the river used to take whatever color was flushed ineach day depending on what color dye was used by localmanufacturers. We certainly have come a long way baby. Kate Bowditch shared an overview of water tables in Massachusetts and issues affecting them. Sewage and storm water drainage, whether combined or separated in local waste systems strongly affect the conditions of our state aquifers (underground beds or layers yielding ground water for wells and springs etc.). Kate also highlighted the sources of water in our municipal sewage systems, including leakage (often through old clay pipes), standard industrial, commercial, and residential sewage, and storm water drainage (water from precipitation.) Phosphorous remains a hazard to the aquifer. Kate mentioned that several communities now are taking action against the use of phosphorous in fertilizers – apparently the phosphorous is not a necessary component of fertilizer as it already exists in most substances. Kate provided statistics on historical percentage changes of sources of sewage and potential contaminants, noting increases in rates ofcontamination by industry and commercial operations. Potential current and future ways to address theproblem were discussed, including pervious paving solutions and sub-terrainian tanks which enablecompanies/organizations with large paved surfaces (e.g. big box retailers, corporations, government) tocapture precipitation and enable it to drain into the ground/water table, instead into sewage systems,which often drain to the Deer Island treatment facility and subsequently into the ocean, instead of into ourlocal water tables.
Necessity often is the mother of invention, and Kate cited examples of local towns like Franklin thatrecently have come close to severe water shortages, and in are relatively more active in promotinglegislation and in requiring new standards and methods of ensuring that aquifers are replenished andprotected.Kate concluded the program by fielding questions from the audience, which included staff of WellesleyCollege, employees of the Wellesley NRC, and members of the Wellesley Trails Committee, a volunteersubset organization of the NRC.The program was a welcome and educational reminder of the fragile state of our water system inMassachusetts and across the USA. Kate and members of the audience noted that communityparticipation in water issues is vital to promotion of ways to ensure that our environment will be protectedand that clean water will be available for future generations.Peter Rovick is a member of the Wellesley Trails Committee, an advisor to the Wellesley ConservationCouncil, and is Chair of the Babson Alumni Green Forum.For more information: • CRWA: http://www.crwa.org/ • Wellesley Trails Committee: www.wellesleytrails.org • Wellesley Natural Resources Commission: http://www.ci.wellesley.ma.us/pages/wellesleyma_NRC/index