This was the title of today’s well attended forum hosted by State Senator Jamie Eldridge and co-sponsored by the Organization for the Assabet River (OAR), Clean Water Action and Clean Water Fund. The event was held in Maynard at Clock Tower Place (aka “The Mill”) where, in the past, a portion of the Assabet River used to report for work every day.
One presenter’s slide seemed particularly relevant to the need for such innovation with this quote from Lord Selborne: “One can first of all simply wonder at the fact that it is only recently that humanity has begun to ponder the evolution and fate of water in the world when the very survival of our species depends on it.”
Speakers introduced the concept of seeing wastewater as wasted water when we send it out of its watershed. Storm water is also wasted when allowed to runoff into streams and rivers rather than recharging the local aquifers.
Bob Zimmerman, Executive Director of the Charles River Watershed Association, showed an example of how retaining wastewater and storm water for local benefit would allow one community to offset the negative effects from adding two new drinking water wells necessary for future growth. He also said it could all be as simple as just “mimicking nature” and observing how it behaves before we modify it. By doing so, he suggested we could achieve a mesotrophic or “stable state” where the nutrients in our waters are in balance.
Brent Regor, Public Health Director for the Town of Concord, suggested that the time is here for serious consideration of water reuse. I for one hope he is right and that folks have moved past the “Yuck” factor. I remember back in the 1980s when a Killington Vermont ski resort floated the idea of using treated wastewater effluent for snow making. All it took to squash the plan was one newspaper cartoon showing two skiers on a ski lift gripping toilet plungers instead of ski poles! Hopefully, we’ve moved past the point where we can be so easily dissuaded from utilizing such innovation.