Water Conservation Advocacy

Thanks to the advocacy of the Watershed Association and other watershed groups, the state will soon be formally proposing new regulations for large groundwater withdrawals.

A dried-up Traphole Brook at High Plain St. in Sharon, August 2007. Photo. by Paul Lauenstein.

In a natural water cycle, rain sinks into the ground and replenishes our aquifers, which slowly release the water to lakes and streambeds all year long.

But too much of that groundwater in our watershed is being pumped out by public water suppliers before it can reach surface waters.

Low streamflows are caused largely by depleted groundwater, which is the only source of water our rivers and streams have during dry weather.

Unnaturally low water levels (“streamflows”) in the Neponset River and its tributary streams have:

  • decimated fish populations and the diversity of fish species in our waters,
  • limited recreational opportunities,
  • and significantly increased water pollution by concentrating pollutants like bacteria and excessive nutrients in lower volumes of water.

A tremendous percentage of the pumped water is simply being wasted, with no benefit to anyone. In addition to everyday wasteful water use practices, over-watering of lawns takes huge quantities of water during the driest time of the year.

Did you know that if you water your lawn between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., most of it just evaporates into the atmosphere? Or that watering two days a week between 5 p.m. and 9 a.m. is all you’ll ever need to keep a healthy, attractive lawn?

The Watershed Association continues to expend a high level of effort in ensuring that water suppliers mitigate their impacts on streamflow.


A dried-up Mill Brook at Mill Brook Rd., Westwood, August 2007. Photo by Paul Lauenstein.

A dried-up Mill Brook at Mill Brook Rd., Westwood, August 2007. Photo by Paul Lauenstein.

Under the Water Management Act, the state could require towns to adopt strict outdoor lawn watering restrictions (odd/even watering days is practically useless), especially when streams and ponds are unnaturally low.

It also could require towns to:

  • adopt increased water rates for excessive water users,
  • offer citizen rebates for purchasing water-efficient appliances,
  • require stricter controls on excessive summer lawn watering,
  • make water suppliers “evaluate” other conservation measures.

Although the rules that the state are considering will do a lot to protect pristine waters, they will clearly not result in restoration of more natural streamflows in the watershed, and they will do much less for rivers like the Neponset, which are already greatly stressed by excessive groundwater pumping.

Questions? Contact Executive Director, Ian Cooke at cooke@neponset.org or 781-575-0354 x305.