Gregory Krom, Topsfield’s water superintendent, said conservation measures have strengthened the river, allowing the town to abandon its search for another water supply, such as a deep rock well that would have been costly.
“I think residents would like to water their lawns probably more than has been allowed the last few years, but there are some benefits to the conservation that we’ve seen,” he said.
Krom said the town’s water ban, which kicks in when the river reaches low levels, did not go into effect until last week, a couple of months later than usual. He said he hopes that is a sign that conservation measures along the river are working.
“We’re a small water supplier on the bottom end of the watershed, so we stand to benefit from any improvements they make upstream,” Krom said.
Castonguay, a 49-year-old Ipswich native, became executive director of the watershed association last September but has been involved with the organization as a volunteer and board member for more than 20 years. He has worked as a biologist for the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, an ecologist for The Trustees of Reservations and general manager of Appleton Farms in Ipswich.
Castonguay said the organization is working to increase public access on the river. It is building a new boat landing at its headquarters in Ipswich and reconstructing a canoe launch on Route 97 in Topsfield. It has also published a new canoe and kayaking guide to the river.
The association has about 800 members and an annual budget of $300,000. Two months ago, it launched a campaign with the goal of increasing membership to more than 1,000.
“Three hundred and thirty thousand people drink from the river every day. We’d love to get more of those people,” Castonguay said. “Ultimately, we’re here for the people and to protect their water.”
Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or firstname.lastname@example.org.