Lawmakers hold hearing over proposed equity, payments for Quabbin watershed towns
SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - The Joint Committee on Environment and Natural Resources held a hearing Wednesday afternoon on ‘An Act Relative to the Quabbin Watershed and Regional Equity’ filed by State Senator Jo Comerford and Representative Aaron Saunders.
The hearing was streamed virtually and featured a bill that seeks greater regional equity and provides for reasonable payments to Quabbin watershed communities for local municipal needs.
Beginning around 1927, the towns of Dana, Enfield, Greenwich, and Prescott were disincorporated, evacuated, and then flooded to create the Quabbin Reservoir, one of the largest potable water sources in the United States.
Current law states the remaining communities around Quabbin - including Belchertown, Hardwick, Pelham, New Salem, Petersham, Shutesbury, and Ware - receive minimal compensation and don’t have the ability to pull their own drinking water from the reservoir.
“This water is life. The Quabbin Reservoir provides life for eastern Massachusetts, allows the eastern part of the state to grow and expand, and yet, for far too long, far too long, the recompense for towns that steward this water has been a pittance relative to the value. For too long, I would suggest Massachusetts has taken from its four western counties water and food as we maintain open space and reservoirs that sink carbon and actually breathe for us without fully grappling with the cost of maintaining these treasures,” Comerford explained.
Comerford stressed that the Quabbin provides pristine drinking water to millions of people in eastern Massachusetts despite schools in the watershed relying on bottled water due to PFAS contamination.
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