GROTON -- After a competitive application process, Groton was one of 16 Massachusetts communities chosen by the state's Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs to share $1.1 million in grant money. The money is intended to help develop better planning for water conservation and various water withdrawal mitigation projects.
The Groton Water Department's portion of the grant money will be $53,400.
"I think it was a good application that was pretty thorough," said Water Department superintendent Thomas Orcutt, who filed for the grant. "They agreed with everything that was in it. They didn't take anything out."
Award of the grant money was based on projects intended for specific watersheds or sub-watersheds that identify ways to improve ecological conditions.
Approved applications can also cover demand management plans that aim to improve efficiency of water use within a municipality or a watershed.
Also covered are mitigation schemes that improve or increase instream flow; wastewater projects that keep water local, including reductions in inflow and infiltration; stormwater management projects that improve recharge, reduce impervious cover and/or improve water quality; water supply operational improvements; habitat improvement; and other projects that can be demonstrated to mitigate the impacts of water withdrawals.
The Department of Environmental Protection received 26 proposals for this year's round of grants, of which 16 were chosen, including Littleton and Groton.
According to Orcutt, his department's application stated that if Groton were awarded a grant, the money would be used to develop a supply management protocol/optimization plan along with a demand management plan.
When implemented, the supply management protocol/optimization plan would allow the town to assess how to preferentially pump its wells (existing and pending) for the benefit of drinking water supply and the environment.
The demand management plan would identify those actions the Water Department has already implemented while also investigating additional water conservation efforts that the town may wish to consider to reduce the overall volume to be mitigated under the state's Sustainable Water Management Initiative.
"Groton is in a moderately stressed basin, not a high stress basin," said Orcutt. "But there is a lot of demand on the watershed."
When asked if the cost to customers would increase as a result of conservation efforts and new rate structure, Orcutt replied that it should not.
The grant itself does not cover the entire expense of producing the management protocol/optimization and demand management plans. Instead, the Water Department will be responsible for up to 20 percent of the $66,800 cost, or $13,400.
"The money will go pretty far toward completion of a demand management plan though," said Orcutt.