Acton’s Groundwater supplies are a limited resource. The Acton Water District draws its water from a few medium-yield aquifers. Acton does not have the wealth of high-yield aquifers, as do some nearby towns. Forty percent of the District’s supply was temporarily lost in 1977 due to organic chemical contamination of two of the District’s wells. Although clean up of the site and treatment of the wells have allowed these sources to come back on-line, this incident emphasized the importance of both ongoing source water protection and conservation efforts.
In order to minimize environmental impact from water withdrawal and ensure adequate water supplies for the future in all Massachusetts river basins, the DEP’s Water Management Act (WMA) regulates the annual water withdrawals of all public water supplies that withdraw more than 100,000 gallons per day. Acton’s Water Withdrawal Permit allows for an average withdrawal of 1.92 million gallons per day. On peak demand days (generally during the months of May-October) water usage can often be well in excess of this level. Although use is lower during the winter months, the annual average withdrawals are coming dangerously close to that allowed by the WMA.
The District struggles to keep up with demand during peak-use seasons and the addition of new users as Acton’s population increases. On any given day between May and October demand can reach and exceed 2.45 million gallons a day, during these high-demand days, the water level in storage tanks drops, causing decreases in pressure in certain residences. Should storage tank levels drop too low, the District will be faced with imposing a ban on all outdoor water uses in order to ensure adequate water for basic residential use and emergency use (such as fire-fighting.)
Due primarily to local geological conditions, certain wells provide better water quality than do others. If there is adequate storage to meet demand, the District can manage the system to optimize the quality of the water. As demand increases, so too does the need to operate all wells, including those that may provide water with a taste or odor that is objectionable to some customers.
The infrastructure of the Acton Water District (tanks, pipes, pumps) is built to meet peak demand. By reducing peak demand, we can reduce the overall cost of providing water.
Your Current Water Bill: The Acton Water District’s water rates are based upon consumption; inclining block rates have been set to encourage conservation. Thus, the highest users pay a higher rate, so using less water will save you money.
Your Future Water Bill: At the current rate of increase of water consumption, Acton will soon need to develop a new well or wells to meet demand. This process is extremely expensive and time consuming. Conservation measures, such as limitations on outdoor water use and water efficient landscape designs and practices have been shown to result in average water savings of up to fifty percent. Such savings would allow Acton to sustain itself for the foreseeable future on existing supplies.
Your Time and Energy: Limiting outdoor water use and implementing water efficient landscape designs and practices not only saves you time, energy, and money, but it is also better for the environment.