More towns in Massachusetts are considering plans to build facilities that purify salt water from the Atlantic Ocean as a way to address chronic water shortages, the Boston Globe reported. However, environmentalists are worried that delicate aquatic ecosystems may be damaged.
The town of Brockton may start construction of a $40 million salt water purification plant as early as September. Hull residents will be asked this month to authorize a $280,000 study to determine whether a desalination plant would lower the town's high water rates, and Braintree residents set aside $75,000 for a similar study. Several North Shore towns also are looking at the possibility, the Globe reported.
"Supplies of water have dwindled down to a precious few, and there are no other ones to be developed in eastern Massachusetts," said John Murphy of Hanson, Murphy and Associates, an engineering firm involved in the construction of Brockton's plant.
But Christopher Killian, a senior attorney with the Conservation Law Foundation, said that the towns don't need to be building any of these facilities. He believes conservation efforts are a much better way to deal with the region's water woes.
Causing even greater concern for environmentalsts are the proposed locations for some of these plants. They are worried that powerful intake pipes sucking in millions of gallons of water and releasing salty discharge could upset the ecosystems.
Public policy specialists are alarmed because since some of the plants could be privately owned, public water supplies could be sold to the highest bidder.
City officials dismiss worries about privatization because a 20-year contract ensures affordable rates and the new plant would merely supplement existing supplies, the Globe reported.