Water Task Force Check In, Nomination Papers Available for Elections in Essex, Manchester


Manchester’s Water Resources Protection Task Force (MWRPT) was re-established in early 2022 to explore ways to protect local public water sources and their surrounding environment.  Since it was created, MWRPT has worked to examine ways to increase water quality and promote water conservation practices among residents and businesses.  It operates within the Conservation Commission (led by Steve Gang) and will complete its work early this summer. 

Monday’s meeting will be the MWRPT’s quarterly update the Select Board on its progress so far, which has been considerable.  The task force has been collecting data on monitoring wells installed around Gravelly Pond on upper Pine Street, which provides approximately 60 percent of the town’s water supply (Manchester’s Lincoln Street Well provides the other 40 percent).  It has also been collecting annual water consumption data, and closely following the monitoring of “PFAS” levels at both wells collected by the Manchester Department of Public Works, which manages all of Manchester’s water and sewer infrastructure.

With six months to go before their task is complete, the group is concluding that Manchester’s water supply is relatively strong, and the quality of local public water is also relatively good.

That said, the DPW with the MWRPT have been closely watching levels of contaminants such as sodium and PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) in the Lincoln Street Well.  PFAS are manufactured chemicals used widely since the 1950s in consumer products such as nonstick cookware, water-resistant and poly-fleece clothing, food packaging, firefighting foam, and more.  They don't break down easily in water or soil, which makes them an emerging pollutant that can travel through water supplies over long distances.  

The US Dept. of Environmental Protection’s (EPA) maximum PFAS levels in drinking water (70 parts per trillion) are laxer than those implemented last year by Charlie Baker’s administration (20 parts per trillion) for 14 different types of PFAS found in state waters.  (The EPA is expected to lower its levels sometime before March).  Manchester’s PFAS levels have remained below the state’s mandate, although the DPW is costing out PFAS mitigation (read: filtration) systems to implement.

Besides PFAS, one of the bigger areas being explored by the MRPTF that will be previewed next week is how to address excessive water usage by residents.  The group is focused on how to change behavior among Manchester’s highest use homes—and there are precious few of them—particularly how to get them to step down their summer irrigation.  Manchester remains in the Top 10 of all Massachusetts municipalities for water use per capita, and that usage seems to be driven by less than 50 residences.

The task force is exploring a variety of solutions. They’re looking at pricing structures.  They’re looking at the cost of installing “smart” water meters that leverage technology and home apps to monitor, communicate and manage more nuanced pricing tiers for usage, particularly in the summer months.  They’re looking at recommending the replacement of leaking infrastructure that wastes money and water. 

And of course, they’re looking hard at education.  The task force will likely recommend that Manchester encourage systems that reduce unnecessary residential water consumption—including rainwater harvesting systems for irrigation purposes; permeable pavements that allow rainwater to seep into the ground instead of draining away; stormwater retention ponds that give wastewater time to percolate back into the earth before being released into nearby rivers or streams; and rain barrel installations (large containers used to store collected rainfall). All of these features help conserve local watersheds by allowing more natural infiltration of precipitation into soils rather than allowing it run off into bodies of water with potential pollutants riding along with it.

The Select Board meeting is Monday, January 17 at 7 p.m.

Nomination Papers: Essex and Manchester

It’s nomination season, and both Manchester and Essex are trying to get the word out and encourage residents to throw their hats in for election to a local board, or volunteer for an appointed one. 

This year, Manchester has the following positions open: Select Board – two seats for a three-year term, Moderator – one seat for a one-year term, School Committee – one seat for a three-year term, Planning Board – two seats for a three-year term, Library Trustee – one seat for a three-year term, and Housing Authority – one seat for a five-year term.  Nomination papers are now available at Town Clerk Dianne Bucco’s office.  The annual town election is Tuesday, May 16. 

Nomination papers are also now available in Essex Town Clerk Pam Thorne's office for the following seats on the ballot for the May 8 election.  The following positions are open:  Assessor –  one seat for three years, Moderator – one seat for three years, Selectman – one seat for three years, Board of Health – one seat for three years, Constable  – two seats for three years, Regional School Committee – one seat for three years, Board of Library Trustee  –  one seat for three years, Housing Authority – one seat for five years, Planning Board – two seats for one year and two seats for five years.  The last day to obtain/takeout papers in Essex is Thursday, March 16, at 5 p.m.  

There are also numerous appointed boards and committees with openings, and that’s a great way to get involved in local life.  Find a complete listing of board and committee openings on each town’s website. 


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