by A. Richard Miller
visits since 090727; last updated 090727.

Hi, Friends of Lake Cochituate (and the Cochituate Rail Trail):

Belatedly, I'm learning about and informing you of a very short comment period (the rest of this week) for a proposed project with potential importance to the future of Lake Cochituate. I've been concerned about too many ways in which the Cochituate State Park Advisory Committee gets dialed out of decisions, and this seems to be one more example. If the mistake is mine, I'll be pleased to admit it. But meanwhile, all of you should be aware of the issue.

The Town of Framingham is requesting to reactivate its Birch Road wells for withdrawals up to 4.3 Million Gallons per Day (MGD). These wells are located in Saxonville near the north end of Lake Cochituate, and are hydrologically connected to its North Pond.

I've been hearing about this project, but the official news didn't come to the CSPAC until today. Its MEPA review ENDS this Friday, July 24th! And that's about the only official news I've seen.

What difference does it make, and who cares? Those are the right questions. Hopefully, all the answers are good ones. That determination is guaranteed by the MEPA process. Unfortunately, I and the CSPAC as a body have not had the benefit of a presentation on the matter. I believe that, as community advisers, we should.

I plan to request a presentation to the CSPAC, with adequate time to consider and respond. My immediate questions are:

1. In a worst scenario, how much drawdown could this cause to Lake Cochituate's North Pond - and what difference would that make?

2. In a worst scenario, how much drawdown could this cause to nearby wells in Wayland - and what difference would that make?

3. In a worst scenario, what effect could the recent chemical treatment(s) in North Pond, and future chemical treatments, have on those drinking this well water? (Remember that many Natick residents and boards have decided that they ARE concerned, and that concern has grown over several years. Framingham residents had no reason for similar concerns, until now.)

4. What benefits could this provide for our lake? I am aware of one adjacent benefit for some. The related construction of a new [sewer] main along the Cochituate Rail Trail right-of-way can pay for paving that section of the rail trail. However, even "free" trail paving has its drawbacks. A more natural rail-trail surface slows fast bikers, reducing their closing speed with other trail users. Paving presents a hotter and harder surface to dogs' feet, and prevents volunteers from making inexpensive interim repairs (instead of leaving cracks and heaves for years, until the entire trail justifies repaving). Most walkers, dog-walkers, birders, and baby-carriage pushers would prefer that "slower" and more natural rail-trail surface. Typically, less than half of trail users will be on bicycle - and many bicyclists also value a more natural trail. After all, bikes have streets for high-speed use. (And yes, there is middle ground between those two extremes.)

5. What potential issues do you see, that I've missed?

Perhaps the CSPAC can be assured that all these issues are already under thorough discussion and we'll have a later chance to be heard. If not, I plan to request an adequate delay. Either way, you now also have the puzzle and a chance to be heard by MEPA and Mass. DCR. See below.

P.S.- I just found four reasons to be less assured in my eleventh-hour attempt to comment effectively:

1. I checked the provided URL (see below), and note that it claims a Est. Cost of $20,000,000,000. Yes, 20 Billion dollars! Did they mean $200K? $2M? Or what? Who failed to proof-read it, and what else is wrong?

2. I didn't find descriptive information at that URL (in the prior message, below), or a link to that information.

3. I looked up the current Environmental Monitor's post re this Framingham EIR, but it has even less information and no URL link:

4. Hoping to be mailed a packet of information, I dialed the phone link to SEA Consultants and found no one answering that phone at 2:30PM today (Tuesday). I left a message, haven't heard back yet, and Friday is not far off!

So, what other questions strike YOU as potentially important? You have the official contact information below. You might also copy me ( Dick Miller <TheMillers@millermicro.com> ) and CSPAC Chair Than Bogan <Nathaniel_Bogan@alum.mit.edu>.

With some concern,
--Dick Miller <TheMillers@millermicro.com>
  Member, Cochituate State Park Advisory Committee

  Member, Natick Cochituate Rail Trail Advisory Committee

  E-MAIL LISTS (opt-in/out/etc.): http://millermicro.com/newURL.html
A. Richard & Jill A. Miller            | MILLER MICROCOMPUTER SERVICES |
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> From: Hutchins, Linda (DCR)
> Sent: Tuesday, July 21, 2009 9:05 AM
> To: Straub, Jim (DCR)
> Subject: FW: Framingham Birch Road Wells DEIR

> Framingham is requesting to reactivate Birch Road wells for withdrawals up to 4.3 Million Gallons per Day (MGD).  DCR is commenting on impacts to Lake Cochituate, Cochituate Brook, and Sudbury River.  Interests around Dudley Pond in Wayland may also wish to review the Draft Environmental Impact Report and provide comments on it.  The MEPA comment deadline is this coming Friday, July 24, 2009.

> Info:
> http://mepadata.env.state.ma.us/pls/portal30/MEPA_WEB.MEPA_QUERY_DETAIL.SHOW?p_arg_names=eoea_nbr&p_arg_values=14197

> Framingham is requesting Federal Stimulus Funding to reconstruct the wells and build a water treatment plant for them.
> Linda M. Hutchins, Hydrologist
> Department of Conservation and Recreation
> Office of Water Resources
> Division of Water Supply Protection
> 251 Causeway Street, Suite 800
> Boston, Massachusetts 02114
> Phone: 617-626-1384
> e-mail: linda.hutchins@state.ma.us