Plymouth: Water Supply Issues

  Katherine Harrelson 

Plymouth’s water shortages caused by overdevelopment and poor planning cannot be ignored any longer. Three reports by the Town’s own consultant, Environmental Partners demonstrate a need for a moratorium on large developments. This post contains a summary of the most recent report, issued in October, 2022 and how it relates to the Claremont Plymouth LLC proposed development of 348-units in Plymouth. 

2022 Environmental Partners report and Claremont development proposal

According to the October 2022 Environmental Partners Impact Analysis, the West Plymouth Pressure zone only has access to water from its three wells, Darby Pond Well, the North Plymouth Well, and the Federal Furnace Well. However, the North Plymouth Well was taken off line recently. The margin of excess water available from the remaining two wells is so small that loss of any of the West Plymouth water sources during high demand periods would lead to a water shortage in the West Plymouth Pumping Zone. The only auxiliary supply to the three West Plymouth Pressure Zone wells is the Deep Water Booster Pumping Station, located in the Northern Pressure Zone. However, the pipes that flow from this well are in poor condition and cannot support higher flow rates. Therefore, in order to get more water for new developments, West Plymouth will need both a new well and an auxiliary pump for the Deep Water Booster Pumping Station, improvements that will cost the Town millions of dollars.

The Selectboard (acting as the Town’s Water Commissioners) made a secret deal on November 15, 2022 with Claremont to try to address the water deal and affordable housing. Apparently, in a closed-door negotiations Claremont agreed to pay $500,000 for the analysis and design of a new well in West Plymouth, and agreed to pay about $2 million dollars for a booster pump to be installed in the Northern Plymouth pressure zone. The Town says they already have a location for the booster pump pumping station.

These deals are being made behind closed doors. This is wrong. How do Plymouth residents and voters want to handle water shortages: allow unchecked development and keep drilling new wells into the aquifer? Or curb development and save what’s left of the water underground? The Plymouth Carver Aquifer Action Plan poses many solutions for a sustainable future for the drinking water source for all of Plymouth.

Installing a new well poses many ecological risks. Where would a new well be located? What part of the aquifer would it pump from? What natural resources would be affected? Will Plymouth draw additional supply from the Darby Pond well, and how would this affect the Darby Pond ecosystem?

Why wouldPlymouth continue to support new real estate development if the Town is heading for a water crisis?

Plymouth can solve its water problems with WATER CONSERVATION!   On December 6th, 2022, the Plymouth Water Conservation Committee presented the Select Board with the findings of their two-year study, which concluded that continued growth and development is a threat to Plymouth’s water supply, and which called for water conservation measures to be implemented. However, the Select Board and the ZBA ignored the findings of the study. Plymouth should curb development and stop drilling new wells, and conserve water for the future by following the recommendations of the Plymouth Carver Aquifer Action Plan and the Water Conservation Committee. Plymouth residents are urged to keep an eye on what’s happening at the Selectboard, Zoning Board of Appeals, Planning Board and Conservation Commission. Hold our Town officials accountable and demand transparency in all meetings and decisions! This is what democracy is about!  Learn more about the water deficits in western Plymouth and what is being done to address them. Express your concerns about unchecked development and water supply issues to Town! Call for conservation — conserve water, don’t pump more needlessly! Follow the Plymouth Carver Aquifer Action Plan!

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