On May 4, we found out that, after four days, we no longer had to boil our water. We were able to breathe a sigh of relief that the burst pipe had been repaired. But the May 1-3 weekend catastrophe is a reminder to everyone in this state that we are not doing enough to protect our drinking water.
The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that in Massachusetts there are over $8 billion in infrastructure repairs and replacements needed to protect our water delivery system. There is some money in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act authorized to deal with some repairs, but our highly degraded infrastructure will need more. As events the first weekend in May clearly show, some of these projects desperately need to happen sooner than later.
We are also not doing enough to protect our drinking water at its source. The area of the Quabbin Reservoir, which is the source of drinking water for two million Massachusetts residents, is currently being clear-cut, and has been since December. Logging diminishes our water quality, allowing run-off to pass through the forest and into our drinking water, prior to being filtered naturally.
Those few days showed us what life could be like without access to safe, clean and pure water. The state should make some common sense investments in updating our drinking water infrastructure and should ban logging in areas surrounding our drinking water sources.