Residents in our newspapers’ circulation area in Greater Boston probably are unaware that most of the communities in Massachusetts are enduring drought conditions that have resulted in the imposition of severe water-use restrictions.
But here in Greater Boston, there is not even the mention of a drought or restrictions of any kind.
That’s because the Quabbin Reservoir, which provides us with our water, is at an astonishing (given the drought) level of 92 percent capacity.
The MWRA has been around for more than 30 years and is best-known for its massive sewage treatment plant on Deer Island that has turned Boston Harbor from the most-polluted harbor in America into a jewel of an environmental resource that contributes hundreds of millions of dollars annually to the Mass. economy. We recall that as youngsters growing up on Pt. Shirley in Winthrop in the 1960s, we were warned that we could not swim in Winthrop Harbor because of the “pollution.” The algae that flourished on the mudflats at low tide was so foul that it literally peeled the paint off the homes along the Winthrop harbor shoreline. When we had a sailboat in the 1980s, the water was so gross throughout Boston Harbor and the islands that we did not want to jump in for a swim even in the Outer Harbor.
But the other, unsung “job” of the MWRA is to provide water to its 40 or so communities from the Quabbin, and in that regard, the MWRA also has performed in exemplary fashion.
We’ll be the first to admit that we know nothing about water systems. To be sure, innovations such as low-flow toilets, as well as the high cost of water, no doubt have contributed to the per capita reduction in water usage in the Boston area from when the MWRA took over the system from the MDC back in the 1980s.
Unquestionably, aggressive leak-detection and other programs, spearheaded by dedicated public servants, have been the key ingredients in the secret sauce, so to speak, of the MWRA’s outstanding water management program since its inception.
Our late grandmother, Zita Quigley, (whom we loved dearly, but who was a master at playing the martyr role, if you know what we mean), used to say (after we would compliment her for something or other), “Oh, thank you — because you know, even a dog likes a pat on the head every once in a while.”
So consider this our “pat on the head” to the folks at the MWRA for their excellent management of our water system. Thanks to them, we who live in the MWRA’s cities and towns literally are an oasis amongst the drought-stricken communities who are not within the MWRA district.