Integrated Water Management (IWM), sometimes termed “Total Water Management,” is the exercise of stewardship of water resources for the greatest good of society and the environment. It is a comprehensive, planning method for managing water resources in a way that balances social and economic needs, and that ensures the protection of ecosystems for future generations. Although , not the primary focus of the project, the Neponset River Water Management Act Planning project will serve as an example of IWM, as planning was completed planning across all water sectors (wastewater, drinking water, and stormwater).
The primary purpose of the project was to evaluate how communities in the Neponset, and surrounding watersheds, are likely to be affected by the Water Management Act (WMA) rules. Project partners explored a variety of options for them to consider that would address the new WMA regulatory requirements recommended by the Sustainable Water Management Initiative Advisory Committee and reduce the environmental impacts of water supply activities on the Neponset, Charles, Taunton and/or Ten Mile Rivers.
The project involved assembling much of the information and analysis which the participating communities will need to submit their WMA permit renewal applications in 2015. Specific tasks included:
- Developing multiple scenarios regarding the volume of water that will be needed in the future, and creating an interactive water needs forecasting model for the study area.
- Evaluating existing water conservation practices in each community and additional steps that could be taken to increase water-use efficiency.
- Quantifying existing wastewater returns and the potential to further reduce water losses associated with groundwater leaking into the regional sewer system.
- Assessing the potential to reduce environmental impacts by shifting pumping among existing wells, adding new wells in less sensitive areas, or importing water through regional interconnections.
- Exploring opportunities to increase groundwater recharge by retrofitting existing roadways and parking lots with devices to capture and clean polluted stormwater runoff which is currently discharged directly to waterways.
- Summarizing the regulatory thresholds and requirements likely to apply to each community and some of the options available for addressing those requirements.
The Metropolitan Area Planning Council’s Environmental Division had the privilege to partner with a unique group of organizations with varying perspectives and qualifications to make the project a success: the Neponset River Watershed Association, and Weston and Sampson Engineering.
In general, the project found that the growth in water demand in the study area is likely to be gradual over the next 20 years. Therefore, communities can address the new regulatory requirements and substantially reduce impacts to waterways by being proactive in implementing a variety of incremental changes in the areas of water conservation, wastewater management, stormwater management, and optimization of withdrawals.
The project final report can be downloaded here (note: large file – 27MB). A presentation prepared by the project team can be downloaded here. Additional documentation, data and work products associated with this project are available to designated representatives of the participating communities on a set of two project DVDs.
For further information contact Martin Pillsbury, MAPC Environmental Planning Director (firstname.lastname@example.org); Julie Conroy, MAPC Senior Environmental Planner; or Ian Cooke, Neponset River Watershed Association, Executive Director (email@example.com).