Massachusetts, like the rest of New England, is lucky in that it has an ample supply of clean, high-quality water. For many people who live in the Boston area and surrounding communities, their water is supplied by the Massachusetts Water Resource Authority. This agency draws water from the Wachusett and Quabbin reservoirs, both of which are protected. These water bodies supply over 200 million gallons per day for the people of Massachusetts.
These reservoirs are filled naturally with rain and snowfall from throughout the watershed. More than 85 percent of the watershed lands that surround the reservoirs are covered in forest and wetlands and about 75 percent of the total watershed cannot be built on. This helps keep the water clean and clear and enhances the ability of the surrounding streams and soil to filter out unwanted material as it flows into the reservoirs.
The streams and the reservoirs are tested often and patrolled daily by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation. Because they are well-protected, the water in the Quabbin and Wachusett Reservoirs are considered to be of very high quality.
There are other surface water sources in the state as well, which are regulated for quality. But for many other Massachusetts residents, their water comes from private wells drawn from the plentiful aquifers in the state’s bedrock. Here is an overview of those water sources and potential water quality issues each region may encounter.
Stratified drift aquifers
If you live in a river valley, or on Cape Cod and the Islands, your home’s private well likely draws from a stratified drift aquifer. These water pockets are usually less than 100-feet-deep. The water within this aquifer is slightly acidic and soft. It is not usually corrosive, nor does it often contain high concentrations of dissolved solids. Some stratified drift aquifers yield water containing high concentrations of iron and manganese which cause taste, color, and staining problems. Water treatment is recommended for iron and manganese because they may cause decreased well efficiency due to clogging of the well screen.
Crystalline bedrock aquifers
These aquifers are found throughout Massachusetts, except for the Cape and the Islands. They are commonly 100- to 400-feet-deep, and the water within is typically hard and has low levels of dissolved solids. Because of variations in the bedrock, water quality varies from town to town. Some areas have high concentrations of iron, while in the area of Hampden, Worcester and Middlesex Counties, there are higher arsenic concentrations. In the Merrimack River Valley, there are increased occurrences of uranium, radon, arsenic and selenium. Water softening and other treatment options can help reduce the dissolved minerals as other substances found in the water here.
Sedimentary rock aquifers
This geological aquifer formation is found in the Connecticut River Valley. These wells are typically 100-feet-deep to 250-feet-deep and contain water with high concentrations of sulfate, sodium and fluoride. If you draw water from the upper 200 feet of the aquifer, you’re more likely to have moderately hard water with a moderate amount of dissolved solids. The deeper into the aquifer you draw, the greater chance of having hard water and large concentrations of dissolved solids. If your water tastes bitter, it could mean high levels of sulfate. There have also been instances of water being affected by local ore deposits in this area, such as copper, lead and zinc. Water softening can resolve the hard water issues and testing is recommended to determine if there are other substances in the water.
Carbonate rock aquifers
These aquifers are found in Berkshire Country and typically yield hard water and high levels of calcium carbonate. This water quality often requires the use of a water softener to prevent hard water scaling on water fixtures and within plumbing.
Skillings & Sons provides well drilling and water system service in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. To learn more about your area’s ground water supply and whether testing or treatment are needed, call one of our representatives today.