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Independent Thoughts: Water Department welcomes heavy rain; crafty residents replace street sign

by | Sep 14, 2023 | Featured, Featured: Features

During a typical year, the Water Department will send out notices each summer, reminding residents about the water restrictions in town.

No need in 2023.

Hopkinton received a near-record amount of rain — about 12 inches in July alone, which is around four times the average — making Water Department Manager Eric Carty’s job a little easier.

“That rain definitely helps,” Carty said. “It’s meant people have cut back on water usage, so that does cut back on the supply, and the ground water is recharging quickly.”

Hopkinton’s water storage totals fluctuate from year to year (and month to month), but heading into the fall, “It’s right where we should be,” Carty said.

Unfortunately, most of the extra precipitation can’t be saved for the next drought.

“It definitely recharges the aquifers, but they only have so much storage,” Carty said. “So, most of this rain is going right into rivers and streams. It’s not like we can store up. Once the aquifers are full, they’re full.”

Recent years in town have featured normal springs but dry summers. That’s left the town struggling to maintain a healthy supply of water.

“We’ve had years we’ve gone in with a perfectly wet spring, and within two months the aquifers get drawn down,” Carty said. “You can’t count on anything, it’s so extreme nowadays.”

Carty said he still receives calls asking if the water restrictions are in place, even though there isn’t much reason for someone to water their lawn when there is so much natural precipitation. The restrictions actually are a requirement from the Department of Environmental Protection and run from May 1 through Sept. 30, so they remain despite the weather.

Check the Water Department page at the town’s website (hopkintonma.gov) for details on the restrictions.

Meanwhile, the Water Department recently submitted a grant application to the state for help with its efforts to determine if there are any remaining lead pipes in town.

A federal mandate dictates that by the end of 2024, every community has to identify the makeup of its pipes, Carty explained.

The town previously made efforts to identify old pipes when it raised the pH level in the water, and it switched lead pipes to iron. Carty said the town’s current records do not identify any remaining lead pipes.

However, the system was first installed in the 1800s, and some of the Water Department logs date back to the 1930s. So, in order to check the accuracy of the information, employees will be dispatched to houses to determine what types of pipes are going into residents’ basements. With about 4,000 connections, it will be a “very, very labor-intensive project,” Carty said.

Claflin Avenue sign

Some young residents made a homemade sign for Claflin Avenue while waiting for the official sign to be repaired. PHOTO/JERRY SPAR

Crafty residents replace sign

As part of the Main Street Corridor Project, roads connected to the redesigned section of Main Street are getting new street signs. A temporary signpost was erected at Claflin Avenue, but without cement footing, the post fell over. When crews were slow to replace it, residents took matters into their own hands.

The new temporary street marker is a colorful sign designed by two young residents: 7-year-old Graham and 3-year-old Hannah.

It likely won’t last long (it might even be gone by now), as Department of Public Works Director Kerry Reed indicated that the project contractor was notified that the actual sign needed to be reinstalled.

HMS mourns Da Silva

Hopkinton Middle School staff and students received some sad news right at the start of the school year with the passing of longtime custodian Antonio Da Silva after a brief illness. He was 53 and leaves behind his wife and two sons. (See obituary.)

In my role with the basketball programs in town, I regularly interacted with Tony, and it was always a positive experience. While he would have preferred to talk soccer, he was happy to do what he could to help basketball run smoothly. Many times, it was just Tony and me in the gym, either before everyone showed up or after everyone left, and whether we were sharing a laugh about something random or he was filling me in on his sons’ soccer exploits, it was an enjoyable interaction.

He will be missed.

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