, Salem, MA

November 17, 2012

Letter: Support urged for effort to protect

The Salem News

---- — To the editor:

Remember the fight to save Wenham Lake in 2001? Do you know that Wenham Lake Reservoir, Longham Reservoir and Putnamville Reservoir are the primary sources of drinking water for all of Beverly, Salem and parts of Wenham — about 100,000 people? These areas are supervised by the Salem and Beverly Water Supply Board.

But a federally mandated Source Water Assessment Program report of June 30, 2003, showed that the Water Supply Board was deficient in complying with the Clean Water Act. A new citizens group was formed in 2005 — Safe Drinking Water Alliance — and, with the help of Clean Water Action and the state Department of Environmental Protection, set out to update Beverly’s 1987 Watershed Protection Overlay District ordinance and make it consistent with new state and federal regulations. The plan was to amend the ordinance and then launch a campaign to inform residents — especially those who live in the area of the Watershed Protection Overlay District — about the ways they can help to protect the water supply, because in protecting our drinking water they are protecting public health!

MassDEP and the attorney general’s office provided model bylaws for communities to follow for updating. MassDEP — at no expense to the city — provided Beverly with an extensive study of the watershed for our reservoirs and mapped the watershed and priority resources delineating zones of protection.

To update the ordinance, Safe Drinking Water Alliance proposed the following amendments:

Delineate the watershed using the latest technology, after the watershed was walked by certified cartographers and watershed experts.

Add definitions to the ordinance, so it can be a “stand-alone ordinance” for the convenience of the public.

Designate an enforcement officer and enforcement measures to be taken when necessary.

Clarify prohibited uses and uses permitted by right and by special permit.

Protect groundwater and aquifers that are also a part of the drinking water watershed.

Include the whole parcel in the Overlay District, even if only part of the parcel is in the watershed.

Allow increases in impervious surfaces that do not exceed 15 percent of the lot size or 2,500 square feet, whichever is greater, to promote resupply of the groundwater.

The updated ordinance has been reviewed, amended and voted upon by an ad hoc committee, and presented by Ward 5 Councilor Donald Martin to the Beverly City Council for approval. A joint public hearing was held Sept. 4 with the City Council and the Planning Board and was held over until Oct. 15. That public hearing was again held over until next week.

The hearing will be held Monday, Nov. 19, at 7 p.m. in the Beverly City Council chambers at City Hall.

We hope that as many people as possible will attend this hearing regarding this critical public health issue — protection of our drinking water supply!

Mary Rodrick, Renee Mary and Pamela Kampersal

Safe Drinking Water Alliance