The Ipswich River Basin includes all or part of 22 different communities in northeastern Massachusetts. The watershed has a population of approximately 160,000 people and supplies municipal water to approximately 350,000 people (EOEA, 2003). The Basin has been studied for decades, as perennial low flow conditions in the summer challenge the reliability of small supply systems, primarily groundwater sources that rely on winter and spring replenishment. An estimated 75% of Basin water withdrawals are exported, either as wastewater flow, or for potable water use, outside of the Basin, and so return flows are minimal. Over the next 20 years, the Basin population is estimated to increase by about 5% and climate trends are likely to reduce summer flows even further, both of which are likely to place additional pressures on local water supplies.
Following a pronounced drought in 2016, six community public water suppliers in the Ipswich River Basin (Danvers, Middleton, Hamilton, Topsfield, and Wenham, and the Lynnfield Center Water District) conceived of this project in partnership and in collaboration with the Massachusetts Water Works Association (MWWA). Most of these Grant Partner communities are some of the smallest communities in the Basin with fewer resources, and fewer water supply options. Most are close to or projected to exceed “baseline” withdrawal limits (as defined in 310 CMR 36) and some have already been actively working on exploring other water supply options, including the purchase of water from the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA).
The Grant Partners sought to improve understanding of the current and future water supply constraints and challenges facing the Basin’s municipal public water suppliers—particularly those who maintain groundwater sources—and, to identify potential regional solutions that could allow for improvement of resiliency and environmentally sustainable growth.
Ipswich River Basin Water Management Act – Final Report 2017 – The first phase of the project was completed in June 2017, with Kleinfelder providing technical and engineering consulting support.
Ipswich River Basin Water Management Act – Final Report 2018 – The second phase of the project builds upon the results of the first phase to further explore options for both in-Basin water management and potential water importation into the Basin.
Both phases have been 80% funded under a Water Management Act grant provided by MassDEP; with 20% of the work funded by Grant Partner cash and in-kind contributions.