Intel Assabet Groundwater Recharge Fund

"Too much stormwater goes down storm drains, into the river, and out to the ocean. Our fund will encourage model projects along the Assabet Watershed that will demonstrate how stormwater can be returned to the aquifers, where it will help maintain both base flow in the Assabet River and sustainable municipal water supplies."

    Ann Hurd, Public Affairs Manager
    Intel Massachusetts

In natural rivers and streams in New England, groundwater provides the flow during dry periods, called base flow. Without base flow, rivers and streams can run dry during the summer and fall, damaging wildlife, recreation and aesthetic quality. The Intel Fund has provided direct support to projects that recharge stormwater in the Assabet River watershed in order to increase the base flow of the Assabet River.

The Assabet is unusual in that most of its dry season flow currently comes from wastewater treatment plants. In July 1999, 80% of the flow in Maynard was wastewater effluent. This effluent contains nutrients that create the aquatic weed problems seen every summer on the river. Increasing base flow will help to dilute these nutrients, improve water quality, and protect municipal water supplies.

Unfortunately, groundwater resources are dwindling. Withdrawals of groundwater for drinking, irrigation and industrial uses are steadily increasing. At the same time, groundwater recharge by rainfall is being lost as open space is covered by roofs, roads and parking lots, and as sewer lines replace septic systems.

The $1.5 million fund established by Intel Massachusetts supports projects that directly recharge water that would otherwise be piped into a stormwater system or discharged straight into a stream or river. These projects have increased the amount of groundwater available during dry periods to maintain the base flow of the river and its tributaries.

There are six completed municipal groundwater recharge projects.