The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, November 29, 2002


Westford water use worries town

Another development proposal with the potential to affect water resources that Carlisle shares with towns on our western border is well underway in Westford. Edward Kennedy of the former Kennedy Farm has pocketed a go-ahead from the Westford Conservation Commission for a nine-hole golf course behind Tara Hall near the junction of Routes 27 and 225. A longer-range plan calls for subsequent development of a second nine holes, pending receipt of state water permits.

The proposed Butter Brook Golf Course will require 133,000 gallons of water per day, 180 days per year, for irrigating the greenways. An existing well that served the farm can supply part of that, but a second well will be required to water the projected 18-hole total. A third small well will take care of the clubhouse.

Since any project that calls for consumption of over 100,000 gallons per day requires a water withdrawal permit from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the second phase of Kennedy's plan cannot proceed immediately. In addition, the overall project is large enough to trigger an Environmental Impact Report under the Massachusetts Environmental Protection Act (MEPA).

In issuing its Order of Conditions, the Westford ConsCom considered and accepted the applicant's Integrated Pest Management (IPM), turf management, and water quality proposals. Approval of the second nine holes is anticipated. Carlisle's board of health agent Linda Fantasia has been told that an alternative development plan for the site could involve up to 103 units of housing, which could hardly hurt the present applicant's case.

Because the 35.8-acre tract lies in the recharge area of the town of Acton's Marshall and Kennedy public wells, that town has indicated its concern about the project's possible impact on its municipal water supply. As for Carlisle, our board of health was the first town body to receive word of what was transpiring on our border, and they are already seeking assurances from the applicant's hydrogeologist and engineers that they will specify use of the latest golf-course technology. But might Carlisle have some additional concerns?

Potential town well?

A look at an aquifer map in the town's Open Space and Recreation (OS&R) plan reveals the existence of a small area behind the houses at the beginning of West Street with an indicated potential for a water withdrawal rate of between 100 and 300 gallons per minute, or 144,000 to 432,000 gallons per day, sufficient flow for a municipal well, perhaps offering an output rate exceeding that of the O'Rourke Farm site that was successfully tested and reserved last year.

According to the OS&R plan, "Most private wells in Carlisle are getting water from fractures in the bedrock, which is adequate for residential wells, but does not provide enough water for a municipal supply." Add to this the fact that some residents in other parts of town have recently experienced reduced output from their wells, raising the specter of a looming need to develop municipal water sources.

What's next?

The ConsCom wondered whether these disparate facts suggest that Carlisle, like Acton, might have a stake in both the ground water and underlying aquifer in the Butter Brook watershed? Remembering Carlisle's shock three years ago when town boards discovered that a preliminary DEP water withdrawal permit had been issued to Chelmsford's water authority in an area that could threaten the operation of the Cranberry Bog, should Carlisle indicate a possible stake in the present withdrawal permitting process?

The consulting hydrogeologist for the Butter Brook project is Jay Billings of Clinton, who can be reached at 1-978-365-9045, and the DEP official in charge of the permitting process is Bob Kimball at 627 Main Street, Worcester, MA, 01608: telephone 1-508-792-7650. Comments will be accepted up to December 9 and, according to Billings, possibly later.

2002 The Carlisle Mosquito