Background: Water Resources Advisory Committee (WRAC)

The Acton Water Resources Advisory Committee (WRAC) is an official committee of the Town of Acton that advises the Board of Selectmen (BoS) on issues related to water resources in Acton, including water supply, surface water, groundwater, stormwater, and wastewater.  Meetings are approximately monthly, are open to the public, and are announced here.

Charge:

As of July 2017, the official charge to the committee authorizes that it:

1. At the request of the Board of Selectmen, research and analyze issues pertaining to water resource systems, identify and prioritize areas requiring improvement, and provide recommendations of proposed actions the Town should take. The BoS considers the following issues to be among those that the Town needs to address in the next 5–10 years:

  • whether the Comprehensive Water Resources Management Plan should be revisited and updated
  • how the Town may assure optimal Town-wide wastewater management, including how the Town should prioritize the allocation of the remaining treatment capacity in the existing wastewater treatment plant
  • whether the Town should adopt a stormwater utility, and if so, what form it should take
  • how the Town may effectively monitor and otherwise assure proper operation and maintenance of private stormwater management systems for which the Town has issued permits
  • how the Town may assure a sufficient water supply for the optimal projected build-out of the Town
  • how the Town may improve or otherwise assure protection of surface waters

2. At the request of the Board of Selectmen, conduct public workshops, presentations, and other public information sessions for residents and businesses about the committee’s ongoing work, findings, conclusions, and recommendations.

History

The WRAC was formed in 2006, as part of the Town’s commitment to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts under Acton’s Comprehensive Water Resources Management Plan (CWRMP) Phase II. Between 2006 and 2008, the WRAC coordinated the initial West Acton Sewer Feasibility Study, before passing off that responsibility to a single-purpose West Acton Sewer Committee. Next, the WRAC crafted a bylaw on stormwater management “illicit discharges.” Bylaw “U” was approved at Town Meeting in April 2011. This was followed by a more complex bylaw on “post construction” stormwater management. Bylaw “X” was approved by Town meeting in October 2015. Over the years, the WRAC also played a role in public education around water issues. A more complete history of these years is provided by two slides prepared by WRAC Chair Ron Beck, included at the bottom of this page.

The WRAC was inactive during much of 2016 and 2017, as portions of their original change had been completed and several member retired. The WRAC was sidelined during the Nagog Pond water treatment plant controversy because the BoS, though perhaps mixed in its view of the matter, framed this as a zoning issue rather than a water issue.

After some debate among the Board of Selectmen and existing and potential members of the WRAC, a new charge was issued on July 10, 2017. An important responsibility of the WRAC under its 2017 charge will be to advance the three non-binding resolutions emerging from the “water articles” at 2017 Town Meeting. 

Slide prepared by WRAC Chair Ron Beck during development of new charge, May 2017.

Slide prepared by WRAC Chair Ron Beck during development of new charge, May 2017.