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For Immediate Release: Nov 10, 2005
Contact: Kirsten Stade (202) 265-7337

ROMNEY ADMINISTRATION ILLEGALLY DRAINING CLEAN WATER JEWEL

110-Year Old Park Trashed; Biggest Wetland Loss in 15 Years


What Is Being Lost. Blue Hills Reservoir has been surrounded by wooded parkland since 1896. The reservoir was 38 feet deep, holding 100 million gallons of remarkably clear water with visibility exceeding 25 feet.
Boston — The Romney administration is illegally draining the largest body of clean open water remaining in Quincy even while appeals to save it are still pending, according to photographs released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). Emptying Blue Hills Reservoir will eliminate a prime game fishing spot and irretrievably scar the natural scenery of a more than century-old park that provided one of the few bucolic escapes for an increasingly urbanized population.

From a legal point of view, the move destroys 8.7 acres of state and federally protected wetlands in violation of “no-net-loss” policies requiring filled wetlands to be replaced. After a state administrative law judge ruled the proposal to fill the reservoir without adequate mitigation was in violation of both Massachusetts’ law and policy, Romney appointees overrode that decision and are proceeding despite the fact that appeals are still ongoing.

Midnight Draining. Without waiting for the legal process to run its course, the Romney administration has begun draining the reservoir, which has already lost 10 feet of depth.
Once the reservoir is drained, the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority will bury huge concrete tanks, each 40 feet high and 240 feet in diameter, filled with 20 million gallons of water to serve as a one-day emergency drinking water reserve for 100,000 customers, mostly in Quincy. The site will then be covered with dirt and sod.

“This episode in microcosm illustrates the real environmental policies of the Romney administration,” stated New England PEER Director Kyla Bennett, a biologist formerly with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. “This is tantamount to paving paradise to put down a bomb shelter.”

What It Will Look Like. This lunar landscape is approximately what the concrete tank farm will resemble once the sod berms are in place.
Apart from the wisdom of tearing up the scenic heart of a natural park protected since 1893, the action would be the largest net loss of wetlands in the Commonwealth since 1990.

PEER is also working with a local group, the Friends of Blue Hills, to stop the project. Friends of Blue Hills will file a lawsuit once the current administrative appeal is exhausted.

“Knowing that there would be legal challenges, why are these high officials in such a hurry to rip up this beautiful place?” Bennett asked.

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Read the Fact Sheet describing the Blue Hills Reservoir and the MWRA Tank Project

See the letter of protest from 15 environmental groups