The Springfield Water and Sewer Commission (Commission) was pleased to host Congressman Richard Neal (MA-1) for a tour of Cobble Mountain Reservoir in honor of Imagine A Day Without Water, a national day of advocacy and education about the value of water.
As part of the tour, Congressman Neal visited the 22-billion gallon Cobble Mountain Reservoir, the Commission’s primary water supply that provides drinking water to Springfield and nine other communities in the lower Pioneer Valley. The reservoir is located in Blandford and Granville, surrounded by more than 14,000 acres of protected watershed forest.
Imagine A Day Without Water asks the public to consider what it would be like to go a day without water, something essential to daily life and public health. Recently, residents in Puerto Rico, Jackson, Mississippi and areas impacted by Hurricane Ian have had just that experience for weeks on end, underscoring the increasing and all-too-real risks posed to the nation’s aging water infrastructure, and the need for funding for and innovative solutions to modern water and wastewater challenges.
During Congressman Neal’s visit, the Commission highlighted the proactive efforts it is making to modernize its water and wastewater infrastructure, much of which was originally built approximately 100 years ago. In 2021 the Commission initiated the $550 million Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Renewal Program, financed by a highly competitive loan from EPA’s Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA). The WWIRP is portfolio of more than 20 capital projects to reduce risk, enhance climate resiliency, and improve water and wastewater service reliability. The Commission was the first water utility in Massachusetts to receive a WIFIA loan.
Among the projects included in the WWIRP are recently completed upgrades to the Diversion Gate (built in 1930), which directs raw water flow to the water treatment plant, as well as planned upgrades to the Cobble Mountain Hydropower Station (also built in 1930), which generates enough renewable energy to power 25,000 households as water flows from the reservoir to the treatment plant. Both facilities were highlighted on the tour.