Jam session is an opinion forum offering comments on issues from a group of Plymouth residents. It appears on the Forum pages in the Weekend edition of the OCM.
The newspaper poses a question to the group each week, and participants choose whether to comment. This column is designed to bring the voices of well-informed residents into the Forum page to address issues, one at a time.
Participants cross the local political spectrum and live throughout the town. Some are current or past Town Meeting representatives, and all are active in the community. We hope their diverse points of view will encourage discussion of the issues Plymouth faces.
This week's question
Plymouth must consider well expansion, according to DPW, in order to handle growing demand and population growth. Preliminary plans suggest developing wells at Forges Field and in the so-called “200 acre” property between Clark Road and Plymouth South. The latter site has some residents concerned about local impacts. What are your thoughts?
Before any plans for expansion of new wells, a comprehensive conservation program to reduce water use and keep water resources free from pollutants should be widely published and enforced.
As the Pumping Effects Report is only a draft, there are many questions yet to be answered about the draw down on ponds and private wells and the effects on natural habitat, particularly the red belly turtle.
In the draft report, the six ponds in the area would lose a total of 8.7 acres, with Gallows Pond being hit the hardest at a 3.2 acre deficit. Ideally, a well site that is not near ponds and does not have a conservation restriction would be chosen.
The homes near the 200 acre conservation site have private wells. Will the pressure and quality of water be compromised from the drawn down?
I look forward to a more complete analysis from the experts and input from Mass Fish and Wildlife. Only then can we weigh the need for new wells against the concerns for the environment and the quality of water for private well owners.
Pat Adelmann has been a Plymouth resident since 1977and is a mother of five Plymouth Public School graduates, a proud grandmother of 12, a former School Committee member and a former Town Meeting representative.
OK, normally I’m the one to say that I will put people first before any animal. I guess I’m going to take a step back on this one and take a deep breath.
Doing research for this I found that Plymouth is the only place in Massachusetts that has the “red-belly cooter” (before this I didn’t even know what a “cooter” was. I always called it a turtle). That got my attention.
A “Jay” compromise: Dig wells, however pipe them out for firefighting purposes only at this time. Should it be determined later that homeowners could benefit from this without “much” change to the habitat, then so be it. People can still dig wells for their water (which will still drain the water from ponds).
Global warming. I am sick and tired of hearing that as excuse for not doing things. I am not an ecologist, however I strongly believe that the red-belly cooter was not here 12,000 years ago because we had a glacier here that was about a mile high. Therefore the “turtle” is not native to here. It immigrated here from somewhere.
Jay Beauregard, born and raised in Plymouth, served four years in the Marine Corps and has worked for 37 years at a local company. He is a Libertarian who served three terms as a Town Meeting rep from Precinct 6.
I don't like what I see on the face of it. But your article noted, "Arrighi said town officials will reach out to the Wildlands Trust (which holds the conservation restriction on the 200-acre site), to the Six Ponds Association, and other constituent groups and is committed to finding a solution that all parties can agree to." If she can do that, this won't be a problem. It won't be easy, but Melissa knows what she's doing.
A Plymouth resident for more than 40 years, Jeff Berger is founder and owner of JMB Communications / websitesthatworkusa.com and everythingsxm.com as well as Northeast Ambassador for SkyMed International, www.getskymed.com. He is a former chairman of Plymouth’s Nuclear Matters Committee and its Cable Advisory Committee.
This issue is well outside my area of knowledge and expertise, however, it seems that solutions may be in the offing. The 200 acre property should be taken off the table without additional options as one well should be sufficient for the near term future requirements.
Maybe its outside of the scope of the present proposal (since it’s at 10,000 feet), but issues around conservation, long term planning issues and future development should be depthfully researched before any shovels hit the ground.
We are blessed to have an aquifer filled with clean and pure water under our town. We must treat this extraordinary resource with the respect it deserves and protect it for future generations.
The Forges Field option seems doable. After the appropriate research studies are completed a proposal to town management and eventually town meeting should proceed.
Rick Caproni is a Town Meeting representative from Precinct 15, a retired equipment leasing executive and a self described political activist.
There’s no doubt that the town needs to invest in well expansion, but the proposed site is very concerning. So much work has been done to protect open space surrounding these delicate ponds while the area has grown substantially in recent years with much development.
Siting a major well in an area documented as protected open space with a conservation restriction seems to be, for lack of a better word, foolish. It sets a bad precedent when we start to overlook what permanent conservation means, and why areas were set up as such. Each time we molest an area with a conservation restriction, we endanger all other protected areas.
The potential devastation to these ponds sounds risky. I’d rather err on the side of caution, and look for another site. Right now it sounds like “maybe” is not a good enough answer to the question of whether these wells could affect the ponds or the habitat.
Doug O’Roak is creative director at C/F Data Systems, past master of Plymouth’s Masonic Lodge and a former member several boards and committees. He served three terms on Town Meeting and co-authored the Town Meeting Handbook. He has, at times, impressed small children by lifting heavy things.
Apparently, the DPW believes that we need to develop more wells to meet the ever growing demand for fresh water in our town. Dropping more wells into the aquifer to deplete it at an even faster rate should not be the first or even the second answer. The way to meet ever growing demand is to educate the public that they cannot have unlimited fresh water, that it is a precious resource that they must use sparingly and responsibly. Encourage water conservation, make more efficient use of what we already have, and reward the citizens who do this. Make the profligate users, including golf courses, pay. Before we talk of new wells let's talk about: regulation of automatic watering systems. Insure that no sprinklers run during rain falls. Evaluate the entire water supply piping system to check for leaks. Encourage the use of rain barrels. Encourage xeroscaping (drought tolerant landscaping) and discourage huge swaths of grass. Stop using impervious paving on acres of parking lots, which hinders the recharge of ground water. Make people understand that private wells tap into the very same underground water source as public wells. Only after we residents of Plymouth make every effort at conserving this resource can we talk about pumping more water. Let us manage demand before we work on more supply.
David Peck is the retired director of Facility Planning at Boston Children's Hospital. He serves as the chairman of the Plymouth Building Committee and vice-chairman of the Zoning Board of Appeals. He is a Town Meeting representative from Precinct 4.
The proposed 200 acre well has many problems. Hydrogeological analysis shows significant reductions in water levels of three nearby ponds and by logic, some residents’ wells (that won’t sit well). The Pinehills gave the land to the town for open space as part of the negotiated deal to get their zoning passed. It included a conservation covenant that the land remain open space; the well is not an allowed use. To break that deal the town has to propose legislation on Beacon Hill to overturn it. I expect that legislators from all over the state would hear from their land trusts that are afraid of a precedent that would affect their protected lands. Passage would be unlikely. Pinehill’s Zone II reaches the 200 acres so that requires The Pinehills to sit down to renegotiate their state water permit - will that happen? The site is 2,500 feet away from The Pinehills village, so their interest is keen. Weymouth was under strict state water restrictions so they reduced leakage and consumption and the state has lifted most restrictions – have we tried that yet? The affected ponds are habitat for Red Bellied Cooters (turtles), that means a fight with the state Natural Heritage people. Those are only a few of the issues, but are we there yet . . . the point where the project seems unfeasible and too expensive?
Ed Russell is an attorney and a Precinct 12 Town Meeting representative, and he serves on a number of town committees.