Yes, we can!
By Paul Lauenstein
Unnoticed by many Sharon residents, but of vital importance to us all, a remarkable transformation has been taking place right under our feet. In 2017, pumping of groundwater by our municipal water supply wells dipped below 400 million gallons for the first time since 1984, a one-third reduction from annual peaks of over 600 million gallons in the 1990s.
Sharon benefits in important ways from its award-winning water conservation program. We save money on electricity to pump the wells and on chemicals to treat the water, and we avoid the multi-million-dollar cost of importing supplementary water from MWRA. We protect Sharon’s Atlantic White Cedar Swamp, which purifies and replenishes much of the water in the aquifers tapped by our town wells, and feeds the underground springs that sustain our beautiful Lake Massapoag. We enhance flow in Beaver Brook and Billings Brook, and spare life-giving water for the abundant wildlife living in Sharon.
Several factors have led to Sharon’s success with water conservation. Rebates for water-efficient toilets and washing machines encourage replacement of inefficient plumbing fixtures. Teaching children in our public schools about water conservation leads to mindful water use habits now and in the future. Ascending block water rates incentivize sensible lawn irrigation practices in summer when hot, dry weather stresses our local water supply. Conservation-oriented water bill inserts provide homeowners with useful tips, and raise awareness about the need to conserve our vital and finite local water resources.
We owe special appreciation to Nancy Fyler of the Neponset River Watershed Association for her tireless efforts to promote water conservation in Sharon, and to the Sharon Water Department for their continuing efforts to find and fix leaks in over 100 miles of water mains and service lines.
As we contemplate the consequences of climate change, our success with water conservation is a reassuring sign that we are capable of substantially reducing our impact on the natural world around us. Our own well-being ultimately depends on it.
Check out the wildlife sightings at www.sharonfoc.org.