Mr. Dan Tinkham, hydrogeologist with Emery & Garrett Grounwater Investigations, a division of GZA presented the findings of EGGI aquifer flow model to the Selectboard and Fryeburg citizens on Thursday night, Jan. 20, 2019. His presentation included an explanation of how data collected between 2005 and 2017 was used to test the model's original predictions and then calibrate the model to more accurately predict impacts and limits on bulk withdrawals in the future. Mr. Tinkham showed the downward trends of aquifer flow rates explaining them as a result of lower precipitation and increasing withdrawals.
Mr. Tinkham highlighted that the original limits set by the 2005 study were set at 603,000 gallons per day (averaged monthly), 25% lower than EGGI's model allowed (804,000 gpd), to account for possible drought conditions. He proudly noted that these limits kept outflow rates at or above the 400,000 gpm discharge set by EGGI as a healthy aquifer level. Selectboard member, Kimberly Clark, asked if there would be any need to lower the limit considering that at current outflow rates the 25% buffer no longer existed. Mr. Tinkham did not think it necessary.
Other members of the Fryeburg Planning Board, the Fryeburg Water District and the general public raised questions regarding the impact on surface water atop the aquifer or fed by aquifer outflows. Mr. Tinkham reconfirmed that the recommendations of EGGI are to hire a biologist to advise the town on the impact of lower outflows to the surround biota. The hydrological study did not set out to identify ecological impacts.
Downward trends in outflow rates for both the Aquifer and Wards Pond, as shown on the report's final slide, raised questions from the public as well. Indications show that Round Pond levels are also on a downward trend. Why does the EGGI study not look at the high point of the aquifer as an indicator of groundwater health? With outflow falling to zero or below, what may happen to Wards Pond? Does the data from Wards Pond explain reports of low levels in nearby private wells?
This report and the discussion that followed indicate a need for the Selectboard to restart discussions with the Planning Board and Water District in vigilant protection of our natural resources. Our community cares about this resource and it's longterm impact on people and the environment.