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Water Woes Stretched Resources May Force Conservation and Slow Development

New England residents have always thought of fresh water as an unlimited resource, but that attitude may be on the way out. With climate change, increased demand from residential development, and stricter regulation of public water supplies, bans on water use seem to be expanding beyond the typical—and brief—summer drought season.

Even regions that are literally "dripping" with wetlands and cranberry bogs, such as Cape Cod and the South Shore of Massachusetts, are facing tighter controls on drinking water supplies. Compounding the problem is the fact that these regions experienced rapid development in recent years.

To the south and west of New England, communities across the nation are working to cut water use, sometimes through legislative action.

From Texas to New York, municipal officials are looking to save water with a requirement that multi-family housing—whether it's co-ops, condos or apartment buildings—install submetering as a means of energy and water conservation.

Looking for More Water

Simply drilling more wells when demand increases, such as when new development is proposed, is no longer the simple solution. Stricter regulations from both state and federal environmental protection agencies have made the creation of new water supplies a difficult and expensive proposition, reports Stephen Densburger, presidentof Pennichuck Water Service Corp. of Merrimack, New Hampshire. "The alternative [to building new wells] is to manage the resources you already have," he states. His firm owns and/or operates water supplies for 150 communities that include condo and homeowner associations as well as municipalities.

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