The Green Acton Water Committee maintains a stream monitoring station on Nagog Brook. This being a low-tech, low-cost installation, our station requires that a volunteer scramble down to the site once a week to read the staff gage, which is like a giant ruler mounted vertically on a pole in the stream.
Last week (January 3), I (Kim) bundled up and trudged down through the snow to the site. The temperature had been below freezing continuously for more than nine days straight, with several nights dipping below 0°F. I was sure I was wasting my time and would find the brook frozen over.
But to my surprise and pleasure, the brook at the gage station was burbling along, as merrily as ever. The water level was a bit lower than it had been in recent weeks, probably because of ice upstream, but the stream was definitely flowing. (Click link below to view video.)
Nagog Brook 3jan2018_notFrozen
This observation is significant because it confirms that there is substantial groundwater input into the brook. The temperature of groundwater doesn’t vary much over the course of the year, hovering around the average annual air temperature. Here in Massachusetts, that would be approximately 50°F, according to the EPA. During the recent remand hearing on Nagog Pond, Dr. Peter Shanahan, a hydrologist, testified on behalf of OARS that drawing down the water level in Nagog Pond by increasing the water withdrawal into Concord’s proposed water treatment plant could threaten the cold water fishery of Nagog Brook. The threat is two-fold. First, there would be less water flowing over the spillway from the pond into the brook. Second, there would be less hydraulic head to drive groundwater flow laterally into the brook. Groundwater input keeps the brook cool in summer (good for fish) and warm in winter.
Thanks to Dr. Peter Shanahan for confirming (email 3 jan 2018) that groundwater input was the plausible explanation for Nagog Brook’s open water throughout our recent cold snap.
After a year or so of down time, the Water Resources Advisory Committee (WRAC) is resuming its responsibilities with a new charge and partially new membership. The WRAC advises the Acton Board of Selectmen on issues relating to water resource systems in Acton, including water supply, surface water, groundwater, stormwater and wastewater.
WRAC meetings are open to the public and are announced here. Their next meeting will be held on Wednesday, December 13, 2017, at 7pm, at the Acton Water District Headquarters at 693 Massachusetts Avenue. This could be an important meeting, as they will be brainstorming how to implement the three non-binding resolutions on water that were approved at the spring 2017 Town Meeting.
- Article 26: Water Resources Study
- Article 27: Water Resource Sharing
- Article 28: Affirming Acton’s Right
The dispute over Concord’s application to enlarge its water treatment plant at Nagog Pond seems to be coming down to a question of whether Acton’s elected leaders have the legal authority to say “no” to a development that is opposed by virtually every Acton resident who has submitted either oral or written testimony throughout the long series of hearings.
In this document, Green Acton member and former Selectman Terra Friedrichs has compiled cases in which various judges in Massachusetts have supported the local authority’s denial of a proposed project for various reasons. Continue reading
The dispute over Concord’s application to expand its water treatment capacity at Nagog Pond has entered a new phase. The Massachusetts Land Court remanded the issue back to the Acton Board of Selectmen for an additional round of public input and deliberation. New questions are emerging, and this post makes a start at answering some of them:
On Nov. 20, 2017, the Acton Board of Selectmen (BoS) will re-open the hearing for Concord’s proposed work to replace and upgrade their water pumping and treatment facility on Nagog Pond. Here’s a link to the hearing notice.
Green Acton’s position is to urge our Board of Selectmen to vote no on Concord’s application to expand their water treatment capacity at Nagog Pond. Here is a link to the complete position and rationale, agreed to with the unanimous consent of Green Acton’s directors.
The Organization for the Assabet, Sudbury & Concord Rivers (OARS) recently announced that it is joining with nine other river groups in filing a lawsuit to overturn the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) one-year delay in implementing new stormwater pollution requirements in Massachusetts. Continue reading