The Quabbin Reservoir provides eastern Massachusetts with 200 million gallons of water every day, but some lawmakers want to see the western Massachusetts communities around the reservoir receive some benefit as well.
Lawmakers are filing legislation to financially reimburse the towns surrounding the Quabbin, which they say were harmed more than 100 years ago by the creation of the reservoir and still face challenges today.
State Sen. Jo Comerford, D-Hampshire, Franklin & Worcester, said the bill would include a 5%, 1,000 gallon excise tax on Quabbin water, which would produce an estimated $3.5 million to go to Quabbin watershed communities and local nonprofits. The money would be focused on the towns’ health, welfare, safety and transit.
"It seems to us quite unfair that we would be out of that equation when we ourselves are facing concerns around PFAS, or lead, or water sewer infrastructure that are really concerning for our towns,” Comerford said. “We need to be part of the equation since we've been part of the solution when it comes to the Quabbin Reservoir."
Right now, the reservoir supplies water for 53 municipalities, including some of the state’s largest communities like Boston, Quincy, Newton and Somerville, but surrounding communities don’t have the ability to pull their own drinking water from the reservoir.
State Rep. Aaron Saunders, D-Hampden, filed a partnering bill in the state House of Representatives.