Gulf Brook hemlock swamp in Pepperell, MA

Protecting Drinking Water

Residents in the Nashua River watershed receive their drinking water from either public municipal water systems where the water supply is derived either from reservoirs or well fields, or, from private wells, which can be either shallow (less than 100 feet) or deep bedrock wells. The underground sources of water are known as aquifers.

Our watershed is one of the fastest growing regions in both Massachusetts and New Hampshire, and with development comes pressures on water supply sources. Pollution threats to all of these drinking water sources include failed septic systems, lawn fertilizer runoff, underground storage tanks, pet and agricultural waste, and stormwater runoff from roads. Sufficient water quantity can be challenged by water withdrawals for use in industry, watering of lawns, and municipal wells. Protecting our water supply from pollution and monitoring our water quantity is critically important to ensure safe drinking water for all.

The Association uses a number of approaches to protect drinking water. One approach is to identify and conserve key land parcels that protect important drinking water sources. NRWA collaborates with federal and state agencies, regional and local land trusts, municipal boards, other environmental organizations, and landowners on projects such as our multi-year “Protecting Today’s Water for Tomorrow” project funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Southern Monadnock Plateau projects protecting priority lands through funding from the federal Forest Legacy program. The NRWA also worked with a broad partnership to protect one of the town of Pepperell’s municipal water supplies through the conservation of Pepperell Springs. More about NRWA Land Protection and Land Stewardship.

Another approach we use is to work with communities to help them craft bylaws or ordinances that will protect their water supplies. NRWA’s Smart Growth Circuit Rider works with municipal boards to develop by-laws and regulations for Phase II stormwater requirements and aquifer protection zone overlays, to protect water supplies. More about NRWA land-use planning projects.

The NRWA also offers a wide range of educational programs from a septic maintenance program for New Hampshire homeowners to a Low Impact Development workshop for professional planners. More about NRWA education programs.

Key to all of these activities is collaboration and partnership. Whether it is a large landscape, multi-year project such as “Protecting Today’s Water for Tomorrow” that involved over 50 partners, or it is working one-on-one with individuals like you, we need everyone to be involved in keeping our drinking water clean.