Mayor Menino Celebrates Boston Groundwater Conservation Efforts
Releases brochure to educate property owners on importance of groundwater levels in Boston
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For Immediate Release
February 27, 2012
Released By:
Mayor's Office
For More Information Contact:
Mayor's Press Office

Mayor Thomas M. Menino celebrated today the significant progress the City of Boston has made in addressing the issue of groundwater levels in areas of the city where wood piling building foundations can be damaged by low groundwater levels. Residents in several neighborhoods will also receive a brochure on the importance of groundwater levels.

“The City of Boston continues to work with our community, state, and federal partners to build awareness around the importance of groundwater levels, and the effects lowered levels can have on both our natural and manmade environment,” Mayor Menino said. “Our groundwater brochure provides another way to educate Boston residents on this issue, and also highlight the City’s ongoing efforts to address groundwater levels in Boston.”

The neighborhoods receiving the brochure include “made land” areas of the Fenway, Back Bay, South End, Bay Village, flat of Beacon Hill, Chinatown, Leather District, Bulfinch Triangle, North End/Downtown waterfronts, and the Fort Point Channel area.

Starting with the establishment and support of the Boston Groundwater Trust to monitor groundwater levels, the Mayor led in the signing of a groundbreaking Memorandum of Understanding that committed all of the public agencies with responsibility for underground infrastructure to share information and agree to repair potential causes of low groundwater levels.

“While we have made great progress in restoring groundwater levels in our neighborhoods we must continue to engage public and private property owners in joining us in this important effort,” said Jim Hunt, Mayor Menino’s Chief of Environmental and Energy Services, “Mayor Menino and I understand that the maintenance of groundwater levels is beneficial not only for the environment, but also for property owners and the historic buildings that make Boston unique.”

Agencies including Boston Water and Sewer (BWSC), the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA), MBTA, Department of Conservation and Recreation, and MassDOT have made significant investments in repairs that have removed multiple potential sources of groundwater drawdown. The City established a Groundwater Conservation Overlay District (GCOD) that compels those undertaking construction to make sure not to reduce groundwater levels and to recharge rainwater into the ground. As a result of these and other efforts, we have begun to see increases in groundwater levels in many areas where they have long been below levels that could lead to piling damage.

For example, in the Back Bay, DCR and BWSC have cooperated on a system that takes water that drains from the Storrow Drive tunnel and recharges it into the ground beneath Back Street; because of this effort, groundwater levels in this stretch have increased by around two feet.

“The BGwT is pleased to have participated in the development of this important brochure,” said Elliott Laffer, Executive Director of the Boston Groundwater Trust, “We look forward to working with additional property owners to help with any issues related to low groundwater and the protection of wooden pilings.”

The City of Boston’s The Importance of Groundwater Level brochure provides a history of the groundwater problem in Boston, how the City of Boston is working with its partners to address the issue, and tools and resources for property owners to address or prevent the decline of groundwater levels at their property. The brochure also highlights the Boston Transportation Department’s Complete Streets program that is currently piloting a storm water management approach that allows runoff from streets and sidewalks to filter directly into the ground rather than being channeled into pipes.

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