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Medfield water woes continue into autumn

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By Stephen Press
Hometown Weekly Staff

The word is out: Massachusetts' communities are facing something of a water shortage, and Medfield is no exception. After a summer that has seen a large-scale drought in the Bay State, some residents are returning from their summer vacations assuming that the worst is behind the community.

Not so, says Maurice Goulet, Medfield's Director of the Department of Public Works. "The Masssachusetts DEP is encouraging people to conserve water as best they can," he explains. "Right now, we're in what they call a ‘watch.’ We are at a one-day-per-week watering, if our infrastructure can handle it."

Boiled down? It means that Medfield is one of the myriad Massachusetts communities - 160, to be exact - in which there are current water restrictions. They are one of 60 towns in which those restrictions limit residents to watering their lawns only one day a week.

For Medfield residents living in odd-numbered homes, lawn watering is allowed only on Mondays. For those in even-numbered homes, it is limited solely to Thursdays. In both cases, there is no watering allowed between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

The town employs two water towers, one by the State Hospital (which opened within the last month) and one on Nebo Street, which are filled by pumps into the Charles and Neponset River aquifers. At the height of the drought, before the water restrictions were put in place, the town was pumping water into the tanks for 22 hours per day. It was effectively a hand-to-mouth strategy, as they were often were emptied of their contents almost as quickly as they were being filled. It was also somewhat risky, as it left the town exposed in the event of a crisis - such as a major fire - that required a massive amount of H2O.

Now, with the regulations in place, the pumps are back to a more reasonable eight to 12 hours of pumping per day, with the exception of the Monday and Thursday watering days. “People are doing a great job of conserving water, so you don’t see as much strain on the system, even on those days," remarks Goulet.

"There have been some people unaware of water ban, but we’re making phone calls, making visits, fining people who are multiple abusers of it. There are reasons why we’re doing it," adds Goulet. "We’re under regulations from DEP. We need water in our tanks for fire prevention, aside from providing drinking water to our residents.”

With the blazing summer coming to a conclusion, there is hope that the state's water woes will soon go with it. For now, though, Goulet and Medfield are hoping that residents can keep up their good water habits.

“The town has been great about conserving water," he admits.

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