October 10, 2010
By Kelleigh Welch
WESTBOROUGH -To develop a long-term plan to pay for building and maintaining water systems throughout the state, a commission led by state Sen. James Eldridge and state Rep. Carolyn Dykema will hold a series of hearings, including one in Westborough on Oct. 20.
“First and foremost, we want to determine how to better finance the water infrastructures so everyone can have access to clean water,” said Eldridge, D-Acton. “One of the main challenges is that some companies are unable to expand operations because they need a certain amount of water.”
During the hearings, local stakeholders can express their opinions about current water systems and brainstorm with the commission for future recommendations, Eldridge said.
“The hearings are a great opportunity with the public to hear about problems with current water systems,” Eldridge said.
The Finance Commission is focusing on Westborough for a hearing because of the recently upgraded sewage treatment plant in town.
The commission’s goal is to solve the problems of the water systems and better fund the infrastructure, with the goal being to foster economic development and create jobs by giving companies better access to clean water, according to a press release.
“The water is in danger of being contaminated, and we need to address this in the right manner,” Eldridge said.
He said companies such as the Evergreen Solar Company in Marlborough use a lot of water during manufacturing, and the success of the company relies heavily on the water system.
“Unless there’s enough infrastructure, it’s going to be harder to contract more companies like that,” he said.
Over the summer, the commission established four working groups that focused on storm water, local financing, environmental, economic and other related issues. They have been working on creating recommendations, with a June 2011 deadline.
“We’re right in the middle of the process,” Eldridge said. “Right now is the time for public input. This year, I think because of some incidents that happened, there is a growing awareness of where our water comes from.”
Eldridge added that between the flooding in March and the closing of town wells in Massachusetts due to contamination, the need for proper water infrastructure is more important than ever.
“If this is not properly funded, it has a significant health impact if we don’t get this right,” he said.
The Westborough meeting will be held at the Forbes Municipal Building starting at 10 a.m. Oct. 20.
Other hearing locations and dates have not been announced yet.