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BOS: More questions than answers in water system study

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HARVARD — Selectmen heard a presentation from the Water System Study Committee that seemed to raise more questions than it answered.

Charged some time ago with scoping out potential new well sites to meet the town’s future needs, the committee apparently expanded its mission to include reconnoitering water district assets and recommending ways in which existing well environs could be protectively “enhanced. “Suggested scenarios included closing a “fissure” at the town beach, regrading parts of Pond Road to create additional barriers, limiting roadside parking and cutting down on salt used to treat Pond Road during the winter.

Besides the second well site option, the report also cited alternatives such as tying into the Devens water system and long-term visions like locating a third well close to the Town Center, hopefully, as developing “new technologies” make that possible. Otherwise, the standards would be stricter, the report stated.

“I’d like to do an exhaustive search of the new DEP standards, said Study Committee Chairman and Water Commissioner Kyle Hedrick, to see if any town property could sustain a new well.” The possible district expansion would target an area within two miles of the Town Center such as the old gravel pit on Stow Road.

Hedrick said the committee’s aim was to continue its work and come up with “an array of choices.” Given the amount of research and fieldwork involved, “It could take a year” to compile such a list, he said.

When all is said and done, Hedrick said that he and his fellow volunteers hope to present a more comprehensive study report that will be “legacy” for future plans, “with every possibility explored.”

Summing up added responsibilities the committee apparently wants to assume, Selectman Ron Ricci suggested that the board at its first meeting in May should revise the committee’s charge accordingly.

Selectman Ken Swanton said the report was “interesting” and included lots of recommendations for the future, but he wondered what to do with it now. “What’s our goal for tonight?” he asked.

Chairman Stu Sklar ventured an answer: “To hear the report and decide where to go from here?” Maybe the committee should be expanded to include more members, for example.

In the end, the board agreed to revisit the issue at its May meeting, at which time the study committee could present “more concrete” recommendations.

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