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Casino Would Have to Find Own Water Supply

If a proposed resort casino complex ever comes to Milford, it would have to find its own water supply – most likely by running a pipeline to the nearest town supplied by the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) – because the Milford Water Company "just doesn't have that capacity."

That's what David Condrey, general manager of the water company, told the Board of Health at its May 9 meeting. Chairman Kenneth Evans asked Condrey if the privately owned utility had studied whether it had enough water to support the demand the resort casino complex would create.

The state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) restricts the amount of water which his company – and other water users – can take from the Charles River watershed, Condrey explained. For example, his company used to be allowed to take a daily annual average of 2.4 million gallons from Echo Lake and the Charles River, but the DEP has reduced that to 1.57 million gallons, he said. Actual use is 2.3 million gallons daily and 5.5 million to 5.8 million gallons each day during peak summer months, Condrey said.

That means using water from sources other than Echo Lake, which Condrey said is the best source in terms of cost and quality. The water flows downhill by gravity from the reservoir to the company's pumping station and needs little treatment, he said. "It's the best all around source for us," Condrey said. He added he plans an engineering study to update projections on the exact yield from the reservoir.

Overall, the DEP used to allow the company to withdraw about five million gallons per day from all of its sources, but has reduced that amount. "They've taken over two million gallons away from me," Condrey said. "We're fighting it." Right now, the utility only has an about 380,000 gallons-per-day cushion in its supply, he said.

Condrey said he plans to keep the utility at a Stage 2 Water Conservation Alert in order to conserve the Echo Lake supply. "I'm not saying, 'Don't water." I'm just saying, "Be smart about it." I'm trying to educate everybody," he explained. Under Stage 2, outside water use is permitted on an odd/even basis between the hours of 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. Those customers with even house numbers may use water on even calendar days and those with odd house numbers may use water on odd calendar days.

Several years ago, when the Milford Water Company needed to buy water from neighboring communities, it looked into buying water from the MWRA, he added. But, that agency will not sell water to a company that would then re-sell it, Condrey said. "That doesn't say that the casino can't appeal to the MWRA and get water from MWRA," he added.

Condrey mentioned Hopkinton as the nearest MWRA community, but the neighboring town is not an MWRA participant. The nearest town that is an MWRA customer is Ashland.

In an ideal world, Condrey said, the casino developers could pay the costs of developing a new water source and let the Milford Water Company use whatever yield the casino complex does not need. And, if the casino connects to MWRA pipelines, the utility could then ask the state agency if it can make an interconnection, he added.

To give the health board some perspective on how much water a resort casino complex might consume, Condrey supplied health board members with a chart a chart showing that four of his largest customers used 29.7 million gallons of water in the 2010 calendar year:

• Milford Regional Medical Center: 18,391,076 gallons

• Courtyard by Marriott: 3,070,540 gallons

• La Quinta Inns: 2,721,972 gallons

• Doubletree Hotel: 5,561,380 gallon


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