One of the more striking predictions for 2011, by a newspaper at a town in Massachusetts: “This year will likely be remembered as the year Rochester tried to get back some of its water rights, which were sold and deeded away more than a century ago.”
The rights in question are held by the nearby city of
New Bedford, which owns 24 pieces of land at Rochester which include a number of ponds – the main source of the rights. The current action involves New Bedford’s application for renewal of those rights, for water draws from the Taunton River Basin watershed.
Whether New Bedford should be drawing as much water as it is appears likely to be a key point of contention. In addition to some activism at Rochester, the other community which with New Bedford shares the water – Taunton – has made noises to the effect that it feels shortchanged. New Bedford also has, reportedly, been selling some of its water supply to other nearby communities, including Dartmouth and Fairhaven.
Local planning officials are praising a proposal by cranberry grower Jeffrey Kapell to create a new tailing pond where outflow from his farming operations would go – in return for giving up water rights at the Billington Seat, where it has until now been discharged. Kapell said he would quit pulling water from that source, or discharging into it.
He also plans to sell some land to be designated as public open space.
A local planning board at Plymouth unanimously supported the proposal.
A new Massachusetts state water allocation policy may open the door to increased water withdrawals in a number of locations, including the Charles River.
The decision comes from the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, which on October 8 said it would revised the criteria it uses for “safe yield,” or the amount of water that can safely be pulled from various water systems.
The decision drew some immediate backlash, as four environmental groups on October 14 turned in their resignations from membership on a state water advisory committee.
Bob Zimmerman, executive director of the Charles River Watershed Association, was quoted as saying, “All the work we’ve done to create conservation-based permits and to conserve water in the state and to turn this resource into one that meets both human demand and natural-resource need is basically out the window.”
State Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Ian Bowles said that “With abundant rainfall and streams and lakes that provide world-class fishing and recreation opportunities, it is unacceptable that the Commonwealth still has areas where streams dry up in the summer, aquatic habitat is degraded, and municipalities are forced to restrict growth. Working with EEA agencies, municipalities, water suppliers, and environmental groups, the Patrick Administration is launching an effort to address these challenges through an integrated approach to water resource management.”
The state agency described the policy: Continue Reading »
Part of the Assawompsett Pond Complex lies within the small town of Rochester, Massachusetts, but the water rights generally don’t go with the town – it has little ability to use the water.
Now, though, it is launching efforts to try to bring in more water from the ponds.
From a July 9 report on the Wicked Local Marion web site:
Fred Underhill of the Assawompsett Pond Complex (APC) met with Selectmen Monday (July 6) at the Board’s bi-weekly meeting for the third time in six weeks, along with Bob Cummings of the town Water Board to talk about water allocation from the pond complex.. Every 10 years, the state allocates water withdrawal from the ponds Pocksha, Long, Assawompsett, Great Quittacus and Little Quittacus, which comprise the Assawompsett Pond Complex. With the 2010 water allocation date looming, the Board and Underhill have stepped up discussion in recent weeks in an effort to determine how best to protect Rochester’s interests in the state’s largest natural inland body of water. Continue Reading »
Ownership of a timber mill operation is at stake in a Massachusetts court battle over the proper ownership, or use, of a set of hydropower water rights on the North Canal (of the Merrimack River) at Lawrence, Massachusetts.
The Pacific Mill is located at the Central Bridge in Lawrence, and owner Michael Perry is hoping a court will agree with him that long-standing business operations there give him the right to use energy from the canal water to power three turbines, which in turn help his mill run. Without that hydro juice, he has said, the business probably will go under. Previously, he had filed for bankruptcy protection, owing to a tough business environment.
Perry’s opposition is Enel, an Italian-based energy conglomerate which operates the power-producing Great Stone Dam, along with other canals.
The case has gone to and is expected to be decided by Land Court Judge Gordon Piper. [see the North Andover (MA) Eagle-Tribune, January 8.]