The Case for Water Conservation in Plymouth: A Water Conservation Planning Framework - Discussion draft for the purpose of soliciting community input

Executive Summary
This Water Conservation Planning Framework is a precursor to a formal Water Conservation Plan for the Town of Plymouth. Such a plan is needed to complete the draft Water Master Plan for Plymouth’s municipal water system that was released for review in late 2019. Clean drinking water is not only a limited resource, it is subject to a number of threats. Pollution, saltwater intrusion, and rapid growth in water demand all have the potential to impact water availability and quality. Conservation needs to become a key element in the Town’s long-term water resource plan. The time to save water in Plymouth is now. Water conservation is everyone’s responsibility. Why isn’t the Plymouth Water Conservation Committee releasing an actual Water Conservation Plan now? The answer is simple: detailed consumption data on water system users is needed for program planning and these data are not currently available. Data access barriers exist that must be overcome and the Committee is working closely with the Water Division to do this. This issue is discussed below and in section VII.D. Research into other municipalities’ water conservation efforts, both within Massachusetts and elsewhere in the United States, indicates that a long-term savings target of 15% should be achievable in Plymouth. Reaching this savings level would reduce withdrawals from the Plymouth-Carver solesource aquifer by more than 230 million gallons per year. This equates to a modest 1% annual reduction in water usage in each of the next fifteen years. Much of the savings can be achieved by pursuing no-cost and low-cost conservation measures. The Committee believes that this level of water savings can be achieved within fifteen years. Outdoor watering in the summer months is the highest priority area for water conservation in Plymouth. Outdoor watering drives water usage in the summer months to levels that are roughly double those in winter and off-season months and determines the need for, and timing of, new drinking water wells. Programs are identified in this Water Conservation Planning Framework to address this. Investigation into the feasibility and potential impact of a seasonal water rate is also strongly recommended. Many, if not most, of the water conservation measures outlined in this report are expected to be costcompetitive with new supply wells. The annualized cost of a planned well can be calculated based on the capital investment and timing of the well addition. This cost can be used as a threshold to determine which conservation programs should be invested in. It is recommended that the Town of Plymouth update its water resource planning methodology to reflect this apples-to-apples, economic comparison to enhance the quality of its investment decisions. As noted above, barriers that currently stand in the way of effective conservation program planning, implementation, and evaluation must be removed. Some of these barriers, which are identified in this report, will require technical infrastructure upgrades in the areas of meter data retrieval, data management and data access. Put into plain language, you cannot manage what you cannot measure. Water usage data is critical to planning. If the Town of Plymouth heads in the directions outlined in this report it is possible, if not likely, that it will attain a leadership position among Massachusetts communities in the conservation of precious water resources. Plymouth already has a reputation for its proactive work in wetlands restoration and long-term sustainability planning. The time to address water resource conservation is now.


Eric Cody, Dan Gorczyca, Harvey LeSueur, Patrice O’Connor, and Morgan Wealti. The Case for Water Conservation in Plymouth: A Water Conservation Planning Framework - Discussion draft for the purpose of soliciting community input, This Water Conservation Planning Framework is a work in progress and is subject to change. It has not yet been officially adopted by the Plymouth Water Conservation Committee. REV 2.5 , Plymouth Water Conservation Commissison , Plymouth Ma, February 2022.


Eric Cody
Dan Gorczyca
Harvey LeSueur
Patrice O’Connor
Morgan Wealti