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MWRA Writing Contest Winners 2005-2006
Massachusetts Water Resources Authority

3rd Place Winner, Grades 9-12

Brendan Shanahan, Grade 11
Tahanto Regional Middle/High School, Boylston, MA

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Boylston: A Small Town's Story of Water Supply

In the small town of Boylston Massachusetts, a large portion of the mighty Wachusett Reservoir is located. At the dawn of the twentieth century, the completion of this manmade project was one of the most fantastic and admirable engineering achievements in American history. Although the majority of this water is meant for the metropolitan Boston area, this also supplies much of the necessary water for my town. In addition, adequate septic systems ensure that wastewater is properly disposed of. Although I live in a relatively small town, I am extremely fortunate to have these necessary water sources at my disposal.

The history of Boylston's water supply is a very interesting one. In the 1880's and 1890's, with Boston's population growing, the state government realized that an immense amount of water had to be added to the city's supply, lest massive shortages ensue. As a result, they decided to place this reservoir in parts of Boylston, West Boylston, Sterling and Clinton. This project was nearly entirely manmade and thousands of immigrants were employed to dig out the basin and to build the enormous Clinton Dam. Unfortunately, our town suffered major consequences. An integral village within our town, and the town's main company were literally drowned under water. The area of Sawyer's Mill was closed if per order of eminent domain, and with its removal, the town's major employer was literally destroyed. Today, houses originally from Sawyer's Mill can be seen in Boylston Center; moved to this section of town almost one hundred years ago.

Although most of the water acquired from the Wachusett Reservoir heads to Boston, our town does utilize this valuable resource. The valuable Nashua River, best known for its famous mills, flows into our area in the town of Clinton. In addition, we are also part of the Blackstone River Valley and utilize this valuable water option. According the Boylston Water District, the town operates five gravel packed wells that are less than ninety feet deep and draw water from the sand and gravel levels. In addition, the town employs five pumping stations, three storage tanks and two booster stations. Although this may not seem like much, this is sufficient for a town with a population of about four thousand.

In addition, Boylston employs adequate sanitary precautions in dealing with wastewater. Most houses have a typical septic system that is connected through water pipes to backyards. Due to the relative small size of Boylston, we do not have an enormous and intricate citywide sewer system. To ensure that all drinking water is sanitary, the town has introduced "zone one" regulations stating that a certain radius of all land surrounding the town wells must be owned by the water supplier and limited to such purposes. Also, to ensure that the safe drinking water is allowed to continue into the future, our septic systems are not allowed to hold hazardous chemicals. Such items include pesticides, paints, fertilizers and automotive substances. It is fair to say that the town of Boylston currently employs an adequate process to ensure that our water remains sanitary.

In conclusion, historical and current water related issues are very important to the town of Boylston. We have an interesting history due to our major contribution to the Wachusett Reservoir. In addition, our town currently entertains up to date technology to ensure that we are drinking entirely sanitary water.

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