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Every plant has a USDA Hardiness Zone designation, which measures the lowest winter temperature a plant can survive. Tags on every tree at your local nursery will provide this information along with other important details about the individual tree cultivar and its care requirements.
The Hardiness Zone is a great indicator to help you determine if your tree is appropriate for Weston’s average climate. However, other factors such as wind exposure, high temperature and temperature swings, soil conditions, exposure to road salt and sun all contribute to the overall health and longevity of a tree.
Weston currently is Hardiness Zone 6b, but borders the colder Zone 6a. For the best chance of survival for your new tree, choose a tree that thrives in a broad range of zones.
DO: Plant Trees that can thrive in a wide range of Hardiness Zones, including Zone 6.
A good example of this is a small understory tree called the flowering dogwood. It can thrive in zones 5-9, from Maine to Florida. This tree can manage even when Weston experiences a cold snap or heat waves. It will also have a better chance of surviving projected Hardiness Zone Migration
DON’T: Plant a new tree that depends on a narrow temperature band to survive.
An example of a tree with a narrow band is the Douglas Fir tree, which thrives in zones 4-6. Weston’s temperature is the warmest that it can tolerate. Although our neighborhoods boast many beautiful mature specimens, as higher temperatures become more typical in our area, this tree is unlikely to adapt to the changing conditions and will likely require extensive care to survive.
Weston’s USDA Hardiness Zone is projected shift from Zone 6 to Zone 7 by 2040. This means that Weston’s average lowest temperature will rise to a low temperature average similar to Delaware, Virginia and Tennessee in the next twenty years. Any tree planted today will grow to maturity during this period of rapid temperature shifts and extremes, including heat waves and polar vortexes, and should be factored into your tree selection process.
There are two main categories of trees: evergreen and deciduous.
Evergreen trees keep their leaves and deliver visual interest all year long. They also can shelter your home from frosty winter winds while providing a natural privacy screen to your yard.
Deciduous trees shed their leaves every year. Even without their leaves, they can provide 4-season interest with their branch structure and bark patterns. Whether you want flowers, fruits, nuts or glowing fall foliage, there is a native, deciduous tree for you to choose from.
Weston’s most common species are:
Look at any plant information tag and you will find icons telling you how much sun is required for the tree to thrive. Usually, the icons designate “Full Sun”. “Part Sun” “Part Shade” or “Shade”—but what does that really mean? Here are some general rules of thumb to help you understand the icons.
Full sun means 6 or more hours of direct sun. Usually this describes a south or southwesterly site with little to no shade at any time of the day from either trees or a structure.
Part sun means four to six hours of direct sun per day. Not all those hours need to be accrued consecutively—it could mean a few hours of morning sun plus a few more in the afternoon. When a plant prefers part sun, although it does not need to be in direct sun all day, it will grow and bloom best with at least some of those hours being in the afternoon. These plants need some heat and intense mid-day sun exposure in order to produce flowers and new growth.
Part shade also means four to six hours of direct sun per day but most of that sunlight should come in the morning hours, when the sun’s intensity is lower. Plants with a “part-shade” designation can struggle or get leaf-scorched in hot midday sun.
Full shade means less than four hours of direct sun per day, typically in the early morning sunlight. It can also mean dappled light below a large open canopy tree. Very few trees thrive in dense, day-long shade.
Not all trees thrive in the same type soil. Some trees prefer sandy, rocky soil. Other trees need moist, nutrient rich soil. Many of the native woodland trees of Weston prefer slightly acidic soil though some can tolerate a wider range of pH. If your home is newly constructed, you may largely have construction “fill” in your yard with only a few inches of nutrient rich topsoil.
To understand what your soil conditions are, including pH and nutrient levels, a soil test is your best bet. A good landscaper can get the test done for you, or you can easily arrange for soil analysis yourself.
The soil and plant nutrient laboratory at the University of Massachusetts can conduct soil analysis on samples from your yard that you send to them.
Town water customers will have access to the AMI web portal that allows easy access to information about your water consumption, compare current usage to previous periods, and set email and text alerts to achieve conservation goals. It will also allow for more immediate detection of system issues or residential leaks.
Back to Wireless Water Meters
Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) technology is state‐of‐the‐art. The reading at the meter is converted into a digital format using technology that has proven to be highly reliable and secure.
Installations will be completed gradually in 2021 and 2022. Please watch for postal communications from the Weston Department of Public Works regarding installation scheduling. Please do not ignore this installation request. Your cooperation will ensure the system goes online as quickly as possible.
A postal letter will be mailed approximately two weeks before the planned installation. This letter will provide you with information to contact the Town’s contractor, Baystate Winsupply Co., to schedule an appointment for the installation. Please do not ignore this letter. Your attention to the matter will help ensure the new infrastructure goes online in a timely fashion. Your cooperation is greatly appreciated.
In most instances, installation should take less than 30 minutes. The installer will have a photo identification badge and drive a clearly marked vehicle. If there are any doubts, call Baystate Winsupply to verify your appointment.
In a few cases, water service will be turned off for 15‐20 minutes. The installer will make certain that service is restored before leaving your home.
Yes, as long as access to the meter is provided. The Town of Weston’s DPW and Baystate Winsupply Co. will work with you to install an endpoint transmitter.
The power and duration of the radio signal is too low to pose a health risk. The products that make up the AMI system are stringently evaluated for safety and meet all standards established by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and Institute of Electrical (IEEE) and Electronics Engineers. See the RF Safety Specification Sheet (PDF) for more information.
The technology operates as a very low‐powered signal that is regulated by the (FCC) against interference. It is unlikely that it will interfere with the operation of other electronic devices. See the RF Safety Specification Sheet (PDF) for more information.
The transmitter that sends your meter reading has a unique identifier that is sent along with the read meter data. This identifier is compared electronically to your account record to ensure that the meter reading matches the meter assigned to your account.
AMI technology ensures that customers pay only for the water they use. Older meters may not have recorded all water used, so some customers may see an increase in their water bill. This is because the new meter is measuring water usage accurately. The web or mobile interface will allow residents to monitor daily water usage.
You will continue to enjoy the same high‐quality water you have come to expect from the Town of Weston and the MWRA.
Public questions may be directed to the Public Works Department, 781‐786‐5100.
If a retaining wall (including rip-rap) constructed of any masonry material including concrete and is less than 36 inches above existing natural grade it does not require a building permit. Please call the office for additional instructions if 36 inches or above.
New houses and large additions, renovation projects may require a CO.
Temporary CO may be issued with conditions, if necessary.
New building, additions, and extensive remodels.
Contact the Town’s Department of Public Works at 781-786-5100 to obtain details on obtaining a Street Opening Permit or Curb Cut Driveway Opening Permit. Both applications are available on the DPW’s applications web page.
Please note: there is a road cutting moratorium on any public roadway that has been paved within five years. Roadway paving is a part of the Town’s Capital Improvement Program.
The purpose of charging for bulky waste is to help cover the cost of running the Transfer Station, which helps keep the cost down for permit holders and tax-payers. The costs to haul away solid waste and recycling are increasing and bulkier items take up room in the dumpster creating higher disposal expense. Currently, taxpayers are subsidizing the cost of disposing of large bulky waste. The best way to reduce bulky waste, and therefore the cost of running the Transfer Station, is to charge for it.
A two-week study was conducted at the Transfer Station where the prices for bulky waste items were applied to items on the list being thrown away during those two weeks. In that time, $3,600 would have been collected. This money will help offset the disposal costs and it will not create a profit.
Back to Bulky Waste
The permit fee could be raised but that is not an equitable approach for all users of the Transfer Station.
A bulky item is something that you as an individual do not necessarily dispose of that frequently, such as a couch or washing machine; however, on a whole of all permit holders, bulky items add up. Rather than passing the cost to all permit holders, especially when there are items that can be reused or donated, the cost is brought down to the individual.
Remember, if it fits in a tall kitchen bag, it is not necessarily subject to the bulky fee and many bulky items can be reused or donated.
At the time the Select Board established the price of a Transfer Station permit in September 2020, a small increase in the fee was made to keep the tax subsidy of the Transfer Station operating costs within established bounds. No increase in permit fees had been made in the two prior years. Over the past three years, the increase in permit prices for most households averages slightly more than 2% a year, well below the increase in the cost of running the Transfer Station (the increase was even less for older adults).
The increase was kept low with the expectation that anticipated revenue from bulky waste would help make up the difference.
Charging for bulky waste is part of a series of changes being made at the Transfer Station to reduce the amount of solid waste that the Transfer Station must process. Composting began in October of 2020. Phasing in the changes gives residents time to get used to the new systems.
The bulky waste fee structure was developed based on an analysis of what other communities charge. The individual fees are less than what private haulers charge for the same item.
If the item is larger than 2’ x 2’ x 2’, or bigger than what will fit inside a tall kitchen (13 gal.) garbage bag, then it is a bulky item.
Some items, such as a wood pallet, can be broken down into smaller pieces, which would either reduce or avoid the bulky fee. Some bulky items can also be broken down into individual recyclables. Let's say you have a small couch to dispose of that cannot be donated or sold. This item can be broken down:
No. Charging for bulky waste is separate from PAYT.
PAYT and bulky waste fees are based on a common philosophy, however, which is that unit-based pricing for trash disposal is the best way to encourage recycling and ensure that we are only throwing away items that truly have no value to anyone else.
The Swap Shed is currently opened Saturdays from 8:00 am - 4:00 pm, as long as their is coverage by a volunteer. New policies have been implemented to prevent items from being put in the swap shed to avoid the bulky waste disposal fee.
Bulky items that can be reused should be donated to charitable organizations listed on the Bulky Waste donation/recycle information sheet, or otherwise sold or given away. Some of the organizations listed will pick items up.
Both wood and metal are waste ban items, per state law. This means they must be separated from the solid waste steam. These items are processed differently, resulting in an additional expense to the Transfer Station. Larger, bulky items take up more room in the dumpster resulting in more expense to process. So, yes the items are recyclable but there are fees associated with recycling. The bulky fee rates are being applied to cover the expense to process the larger items.
Not all plastics can be recycled. Items that are labeled recyclable and can easily fit into the plastic compactor are not considered bulky waste. Non-recyclable plastics (no symbol) and large plastic items that cannot fit in the regular plastic hopper will have a bulky item fee applied to it.
This is a new program and with all new programs there will be bumps along the way. We are anticipating the need to make adjustments and we ask for your patience. The attendants at the Transfer Station will be trained on the program and payment system and, as always, are there to help our users with any and all questions.
Bulky items can be paid for on site with a credit or debit card. An online shop is also available where items can be paid for before your trip to the Transfer Station. At this time, only credit or debit cards will be accepted.
A rug is not installed wall to wall in a room whereas carpet is. Carpet is considered a demolition item, which isn’t accepted at the Transfer Station. As for rugs, take a look at your rug and determine if it can be recycled? If it isn’t wet, moldy or soiled with oil or another hazardous chemical it may be recycled but only if it can fit inside the textile recycling bin.
In order to access the Transfer Station, you will need to have a permit sticker. A Recycle Only Permit and a Five-day Pass are available from the Treasurer/Collector. See WestonMA.gov/TSPermits for additional information and permit application.
How you travel can also make a big difference in your carbon footprint. Thirty percent of Weston’s GHG emissions come from transportation. Consider the following strategies.
Tracking our progress is essential to successful achievement of Weston Ahead's goals for Connected Mobility. We have identified several metrics and associated targets, listed below. We anticipate this list will continue to evolve as data tracking improves. The Town will report on progress against these metrics at least every two years.
Back to WestonAhead
Residents can play a role in protecting Weston’s ecosystems by conserving water and maintaining more sustainable landscapes. Here are some ideas to get you started.
Tracking our progress is essential to successful achievement of Weston Ahead's goals for Healthy Natural Ecosystems. We have identified several metrics and associated targets, listed below. We anticipate this list will continue to evolve as data tracking improves. The Town will report on progress against these metrics at least every two years.
Sign up for Weston Power Choice, and electricity aggregation program that will offer electricity supply options with more renewable energy than currently offered by Eversource. Renewable energy sources, like wind and solar, have much smaller carbon footprints than natural gas and other fossil fuels.
Tracking our progress is essential to successful achievement of Weston Ahead's goals for Resilient Infrastructure and Services. We have identified several metrics and associated targets, listed below. We anticipate this list will continue to evolve as data tracking improves. The Town will report on progress against these metrics at least every two years.
There are many ways to save energy at home.
Tracking our progress is essential to successful achievement of Weston Ahead's goals for Smart and Efficient Buildings. We have identified several metrics and associated targets, listed below. We anticipate this list will continue to evolve as data tracking improves. The Town will report on progress against these metrics at least every two years.
*Source for all baseline data, unless otherwise specified: Weston Community and Municipal 2018 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory, Town of Weston, 2020
Much of the waste we throw away ends up in incinerators, which emit toxic pollutants, or in landfills where waste decomposes and releases methane emissions that contribute to climate change. Here are some ideas to reduce your household waste.
Tracking our progress is essential to successful achievement of Weston Ahead's goals for Sustainable Resource Consumption. We have identified several metrics and associated targets, listed below. we anticipate this list will continue to evolve as data tracking improves. The Town will report on progress against these metrics at least every two years.
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The Regional Housing Services Office (RHSO) was established by the towns of Bedford, Concord, Lexington, Lincoln, Sudbury, and Weston with Sudbury as the Host Community. This collaboration was formed through an Inter-Municipal Agreement signed in February 2011. With a goal to provide municipalities with technical support for the administration of affordable housing, the RHSO has been established as a creative approach to maintaining the 3,200 units of affordable housing in this regional service area.
Please contact:Elizabeth RustRegional Housing Services Office141 Keyes RoadConcord, MA firstname.lastname@example.org
To obtain an Absentee Ballot Application, please visit the
For more information, please visit the
The Consumer Assistance Office is a non-profit organization which operates under a grant from the Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General. The agency works in cooperation with the AGO to help people resolve their consumer issues. Services are free and mediation is informal, non-legal advice performed by trained volunteers. Consumer Assistance Office website.
Call the Executive Director Nathan Suher, Weston Media Center at 781-786-5191 or through email or by mail at: Weston Media Center, Inc. Attention: Nathan Suher, Executive Director 356 Boston Post Road, Weston, MA 02493
Check under News and Events on the homepage for the current programming schedule. Weston Media Center can be seen on Comcast channel 9 and Verizon channel 45. For All Government Programming, see Verizon channel 41.
Methods for controlling invasive species vary by species and site and fall into two categories:
The Town (and other organizations that manage large land areas) may occasionally use herbicides as a last resort when managing extensive colonies, but homeowners (and their landscapers) can generally control invasive species at the scale of their own properties without herbicides.
Manual & Mechanical Control Methods for Common Invasive Species in Weston (PDF) provides mechanical control recommendations for common invasive species in Weston. Other recommendations can be found on the Sour 16 species page.
Proper disposal of invasive plant parts is important to prevent inadvertently spreading the plants during disposal. Some species can re-root from small cut sections. Some may ripen even after a plant has been pulled. Simply composting in a backyard compost pile will not typically provide enough heat to kill seeds and roots. Proper disposal strategies depend on the species and how it reproduces. Some strategies are:
Note that plants identified as invasive by the Massachusetts Invasive Plant Advisory Group may not be left at Weston’s Yard Waste Collection and Compost Facility per Town regulations.
Restoring any site where invasive species were removed is a key – but sometimes forgotten – step in a successful control effort. Many of our invasive plant species are adapted to thrive in disturbed soils. For this reason, all control efforts and general site work that result in exposed mineral soil should incorporate some degree of restoration.
For native plant recommendations that are specific to your site’s conditions and needs, try the Native Plant Trust’s Garden Plant Finder or visit the Weston Plant Pollinator Alliance.
All invasive species control efforts will involve at least several years of removal efforts. Even when 100% of plants are removed, seeds persist in the seed bank, vegetation re-sprouts from remaining rootstock and rhizomes, and any bare soil patches can invite new invasive species to establish. To be successful, you will need to plan to monitor the area for some years and promptly remove any invasive plants that re-appear. Manual & Mechanical Control Methods for Common Invasive Species in Weston (PDF) provides guidance on how many years each species needs to be monitored.
Fortunately, the work that comes after the first year gets progressively easier, as fewer and fewer invasive plants emerge and more native plants establish. Within a few years, you and the wildlife around you will enjoy the fruits of your invasive species control efforts.
Weston's Conservation Commission permits bow hunting for deer on 14 conservation land and open space properties from October through December 31st, which is in line with the state bow hunting season. Hunters are assigned to the following Conservation Properties:
Well-seasoned and proficient bow hunters are selected by the Conservation Commission. Hunter selection preference is given to Weston residents, employees, and hunters with demonstrated experience hunting on properties where people and dogs frequent.
Per state hunting laws:
Weston's Hunting Regulations (PDF) complement state regulations, which take precedence.
Back to the Deer Management Program
Walking and recreational uses of conservation land will not be disrupted.
The deer hunting stands are located high up in trees and away from main trails. The hunters are aware that Weston’s Conservation Lands are heavily used by people and dogs.
Several MetroWest communities including Framingham, Sudbury, and Dover also have successful hunting programs on their conservation lands where people frequently walk dogs, jog, bike and horse-back ride. Since the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife began keeping records, there have been no reports of non-hunter injuries during bow hunting season.
Unfortunately, illegal hunting does take place on conservation land. The Conservation Commission occasionally finds illegal deer stands and blinds. Despite the Commission’s best efforts to police the properties, it does not have the resources to be ever-present on all properties. However, Weston's permitted hunters who have a stake in the program help the Commission deter illegal hunting, and improve safety for everyone in the woods.
To protect native plants and animals, we must actively manage these human-influenced parcels. Humans are already a key element in the ecological equation that governs these properties. Furthermore, humans have been key predators of deer for thousands of years. An unrestricted deer population is a powerful disruptive force in Weston’s forests, wetlands, and fields. In this case, proper management of conservation land requires human intervention to protect and preserve diversity of both flora and fauna. A hands-off approach would allow deer to continue to threaten many native species.
All the evidence the Conservation Commission has received from long-time residents indicates that 30 years ago there were few deer in Weston, whereas today there are many. There’s no way to know the exact deer population of Weston; however, the evidence gathered is consistent with Massachusetts Department of Fish and Wildlife estimates for our region, which is about 25 deer/square mile. The state and the Commission’s goal is to obtain a population of 8 deer per square mile.
While most residents enjoy having some deer in Weston, 72% of those who responded to the Conservation Commission Deer Impact online survey felt that the deer population had reached a level that should be controlled. The negative impacts caused by deer include:
The purpose of this deer hunting program is to stabilize the deer population in a safe manner as part of the Conservation Commission's land stewardship obligations. We do not foresee hunting with firearms. We do not intend to allow hunting of other forms of wildlife on Conservation Land.
All Weston Fire Department personnel are trained in first aid and CPR and are considered first responders. A first responder is a person trained to arrive on the scene and provide immediate care to keep the victim alive until advance medical personnel arrive on the scene. All Weston fire units are capable of this function.
Weston Fire Department maintains two basic life support fire engines and all of our personnel are defibrillator-trained, state-certified emergency medical technicians (EMT). Moreover, the additional personnel on the engine are needed in order to safely move the patient from the scene to the ambulance.
Read this fire recovery pamphlet to find information on what to do within the first 24-hours, if you are or are not insured, how to replace valuable documents, and more.
You can stop in at headquarters and if someone is available for a tour we would be more than happy to give you one. For groups larger than eight, please call ahead at 781-786-6101.
Yes, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts allows burning under 527 Code of Massachusetts Regulations 10.22 (2) from January 15th to May 1st of each year. You must have a burning permit issued by the Weston Fire Department for the burning season, which can be applied for by using our online application form. After a permit is issued, you must call each day to see if burning is allowed. The chief will determine if conditions are favorable for burning each day. For more information, call the Fire Department 781-786-6101.
The Weston Fire Department operates out of two stations. Headquarters is located at 394 Boston Post Road housing Ladder 1, Engine 1, Engine 4, Ambulance 1, Ambulance 2, Rescue Boat, S-1, Car 3 and Car 4. Station 2 is located at 390 South Avenue housing Engine 3 and Engine 2. The administration offices are located at headquarters along with fire prevention and the dispatch office.
Please read the "Facts for Massachusetts Property Owners About Blasting" flyer published by the Office of the State Fire Marshal for blasting facts and regulations.
If you would like your blood pressure taken, just come to the Weston Fire Department Headquarters anytime during the day. There is always an EMT available to take your blood pressure for you. If the station is unoccupied due to an emergency call, please use the phone located in the lobby to call Dispatch (directions are next to the phone).
You should contact Pro EMS at:
P.O. Box 410326
Cambridge, MA 02141
The Massachusetts Invasive Plant Advisory Group (MIPAG) defines invasive plants as “non-native species that have spread into native or minimally managed plant systems in Massachusetts. These plants cause economic or environmental harm by developing self-sustaining populations and becoming dominant and/or disruptive to those systems.”
Invasive plants have all been imported by people, either intentionally or accidentally, from other parts of the globe. In their home range, invasive plants aren’t invasive – there are natural mechanisms, such as herbivores, diseases and pests, and competing plants, that keep their populations in balance. But when introduced to our area, invasive plants don’t face those same pressures, and they can grow and spread unchecked.
Learn about the invasive plant species that may grow in Weston.
A native plant is one that occurs naturally in the place where it evolved. Native plants are part of the balance of nature that has developed over hundreds or thousands of years in a particular region or ecosystem. Only plants found here before European settlement are considered to be native to the United States. Some plants that people considered to be nuisance species, such as poison ivy and greenbriar, are actually native.
Not all non-native plant species are invasive. In fact, 31% of plants in New England are non-native, but 10% are considered invasive. Invasive species are non-native species that have certain characteristics that allow them to quickly overpopulate, such as:
Native plants work in natural communities to clean air, water and soil, serve as the base of food chains, provide habitat for wildlife, and do much more. When invasive species infest a plant community, they outcompete and displace the native species that have evolved to be part of that community. This displacement can cause disruptions throughout the ecosystem. Colonies of invasive species impact food sources for wildlife, change the structure of habitats (such as branch heights for perching and plant density for hiding), and alter the amount of light, water, and space available for other plants. Invasive species can change the soil’s chemistry so that it is unfavorable for other species to grow in for years to come. In some cases, they can even directly harm or poison wildlife.
Invasive plants can directly impact people as well, such as impairing public utility operations, altering water quality, limiting outdoor recreation, and threatening public safety. Oriental bittersweet can pull down power lines, Japanese knotweed can crumble pavement and obscure sight-lines on roadways and corners, and water chestnut can clog the waterways - these are just a few examples. For farming and forestry operations, invasive plant infestations can bring significant economic impacts. Species like giant hogweed can even physically harm people, pets, and livestock.
Read more about what you can do to help control invasive species in Weston.
Under PAYT, permit stickers for the Transfer Station are available to be purchased online for a fee.
Residents who are new to the Transfer Station may visit Town Hall to receive their permits. Please bring your vehicle registration information with you. Each sticker must be assigned to a car registered in Weston, and affixed to that car’s driver's side windshield.
The Transfer Station sticker will enable the resident to enter the Transfer Station, and the resident may, without charge, dispose of recyclables, yard waste, and compost, and may access the volunteer run Swap Shed.
Anyone with a sticker may throw trash away at the Transfer Station, and the trash must be bagged in official Weston PAYT bags, which are purchased separately at local retailers.
Back to PAYT
Transfer Station permit stickers are available to be purchased/renewed online, by mail, or in-person.
PAYT bags may be purchased at the following locations:
Bags are available in two sizes and are sold in rolls of 10:
For recycling and reuse tips, refer to WestonMA.gov/RSW for resources on how to reduce what goes into your trash bag. Mass DEP’s Recyclopedia is also a useful source of recycling information.
Weston adopted PAYT because it is the best way to reduce the amount of trash we throw away. The 44% of towns in Massachusetts that have adopted similar programs throw away only 2/3rds as much solid waste as towns without such programs. Our neighbors Acton, Concord, Holliston, Hudson, Littleton, Maynard, Natick, Needham, Sudbury, and Wayland have all adopted PAYT, and more towns are adopting it every year. Most of us understand that we need to find ways to reduce our environmental footprint. In fact, under the recently adopted Climate Action and Resilience Plan, Weston has made a commitment to reduce its solid waste.
PAYT is also a fairer system. As with many other resources we use (such as water, electricity, and gas), PAYT requires you to pay for your usage. Under the previous flat-fee permit system, smaller households and conscientious recyclers subsidized other households; PAYT removes this inequity.
The Select Board charged a Working Group to study and analyze the program for Weston. Working with a consultant from the state, the Working Group studied the program and the cost impacts to the town and residents. A presentation of its report and recommendation to the Select Board was made on April 13, 2021. The Working Group's Presentation (PDF) is available online and the meeting was recorded by Weston Media Center (mm 1:30:00).
A shared use path is off-road infrastructure that is physically separated from motorized vehicle traffic and designed for use by people of all ages. They are designed for two-way non-vehicle travel options for a wide variety of settings, such as walking with a stroller, riding a bicycle, or jogging. Shared use paths are typically paved and ADA compliant to meet the versatile needs of users.
In the context of this project, a shared-use path will:
Learn more about shared-use paths here.
The shared use path cross section will also reduce the curb-to-curb width of pavement along the corridor when compared to the cross section with buffered bike lanes (as shown in the following images).
The goals of the original MassDOT Healthy Transportation Policy (2013) state: “…to ensure all MassDOT projects are designed and implemented in a way that all our customers have access to safe and comfortable healthy transportation options at all MassDOT facilities and in all the services we provide.” A key phrase here is “all of our customers”, not just the avid experienced cyclists. This policy is geared towards attracting the “interested but concerned” bicyclist discussed above.
MassDOT took its policy further in 2020 with a new Engineering Directive (E-20-001) to apply guidelines for bicycle facilities based on vehicular speeds and volumes. The speed limit and volumes on Route 30 place this roadway in the category of requiring a separated bicycle facility in the form of either a shared use path, side path, separated bike lane, or buffered bike lane.
Through coordination with the Town, MassDOT, and the public, the preferred alternative selected was the 10-ft shared-use path (SUP). The typical cross-section includes 11-ft travel lanes, 3-ft shoulders, and a 10-ft shared-use path with a grass buffer. The grass buffer varies in width depending on space and constraints, and in some areas, the shared-use path directly abuts the roadway.
Another Important reason why a shared use path is being proposed along this corridor (as opposed to another type of bicycle accommodation), is that it will contribute to a greater shared use path network that is in design along Route 30 in Weston and Newton. There are currently four projects along Route 30 with proposed shared use paths that will connect to one another:
Combined, the shared-use path connected with the three other projects along Route 30 will result in approximately 4.5-miles of continuous shared-use path along Route 30 in Weston and Newton. This 4.5-mile path connection will begin at the Natick/Weston town line and extend to Lyons Field in Newton.
The proposed typical cross-section includes 11-ft travel lanes with 3-ft shoulders. From the Natick town line to Newton Street in Weston, there is a proposed 10-ft shared-use path that will run along the south side of the road with a grass buffer between the path and the roadway. This grass buffer varies in width but is most typically 3’- 5’ wide with a granite curb. At Newton Street, the path crosses to the north side of the road as it continues east.
The shared use path cross section includes 38-ft of impervious area compared to 41-ft of impervious in the buffered bike lane option. Over a 3.7 mile corridor, this equates to the shared use path option having 58,608 SF of impervious area LESS than the buffered bike lane option.
At signalized intersections, cyclists on the shared-use path will follow the pedestrian signals. At unsignalized intersections and driveways, shared-use path users have the right of way. This is the same condition for on-road bike lanes except for at signalized intersections where users of an on-road bike lane would go with the vehicular signal.
MassDOT is currently starting the design process for the project to connect the eastern limits of this project to the western limits of Route 30 over the Charles River bridge (shown on page 4). The intent is for that section of path to be constructed at the same time as the Weston Route 30 project. By that time, the Route 30 over the Charles River bridge project and the Newton Carriageway project will be constructed.
At the western project limits, the current design proposes a crossing with a Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacon (RRFB) to provide a safe crossing for cyclists to reach the appropriate side of the road (depending on their direction of travel). The western limits are at the Town line and therefore any extension of the shared use path would need to be initiated and designed by the town of Natick (and then Wayland shortly after). While there is still the possibility that a bicycle may continue to travel on the wrong side of the road, there will be pavement markings and signage that will guide cyclists to cross.
There is a variable-width buffer proposed between the shared-use path and road for this project which typically includes a 6-inch vertical curb and grass/ landscaping. There are areas of this corridor where there are various constraints such as trees, wetlands, or walls that have impacted the ability to provide a full 5-ft buffer. However, additional vertical separation can be evaluated to add more comfort to path users. This can be in the form of a barrier such as a wooden split-rail fence. Any barrier or fence placed would be done in a way to minimize impacts to sight distance at driveways and side streets.
Bicyclists are still able to travel on the road with vehicles on Route 30, as they would for any other roadway aside from those that explicitly prohibit bicycles, such as limited access highways.
Yes. The shared-use path will be ADA compliant. Shared-use paths are designed to serve users who have diverse modes of travel, have a variety of trip purposes, and are meant to accommodate to a wide spectrum of ages, abilities, and comfort levels.
However, there is an approximately 800 ft section of Route 30 east of Oak Street where the grade of roadway is 6.57%. Because the path follows the alignment and natural profile of the roadway, the path is allowable to be over 5% according to ADA/AAB guidelines. From the U.S. Access Board PROWAG
R302.5.1 Within Street or Highway Right-of-Way. Except as provided in R302.5.3, where pedestrian access routes are contained within a street or highway right-of-way, the grade of pedestrian access routes shall not exceed the general grade established for the adjacent street or highway.
In order to improve this condition for cyclists, the design consultant, Howard Stein Hudson, will look to widen the path to 12-ft while also adding a centerline for the path. This will help keep cyclists on their respective sides of the path to reduce conflicts between those traveling downhill and those climbing uphill. Additional width will be given to the uphill side. Also note, that within this 800-ft stretch of roadway there are no intersecting driveways or side streets along the path.
The traffic counts were collected in September 2018 when school was in session. The 25% design was submitted in the fall of 2020, and when the traffic analysis was completed (2018-2019) the 2018 traffic count data collected was the most appropriate data to use. During the pandemic, MassDOT issued an Engineering Directive prohibiting new traffic counts to be collected due to the impacts from COVID-19 on the travelling public and directed engineers to use historic data from 2014-2019 whenever possible. New traffic data is only allowed to be collected with approval from MassDOT. This directive is still in place, although it is expected to be lifted soon.
All intersections along the corridor were evaluated for traffic signals. Six met signal warrants. After evaluating each of these six intersections, the recommendation from the consultant was to propose new traffic signals at Winter Street and Oak Street, and a hybrid pedestrian/ emergency signal at Ash Street. This design was based on traffic volumes, speeds (40-45mph), crash history, sight distance, and the ability to provide safe pedestrian and bicycle crossings.
At Winter Street a signal would improve safety and delay for drivers turning onto Route 30. Currently there Weston Route 30 Reconstruction Project Questions & Answers is a lack of sufficient sight distance for drivers exiting Winter Street from both sides. A signal would also provide a safe crossing for pedestrian and bicycles. On the contrary, a signal does introduce a new delay for vehicles traveling on Route 30 at this location.
At Oak Street, a signal would improve safety and delay for vehicles turning onto Route 30 from Oak Street and Fields Pond Rd, and would also provide the ability to add a left turn lane on Route 30 westbound. A signal would provide a safe crossing for pedestrian and bicycles. However, as with Winter Street, it would introduce a new delay for vehicles on Route 30.
A hybrid emergency-pedestrian signal is proposed at Ash Street. This signal will only be activated when a pedestrian or bicyclist pushes the button, or when emergency vehicles need to exit or enter the fire station.
The design is proposing new traffic signals at the Winter Street and Oak Street intersections. This design was based on traffic volumes, speeds, crash history, sight distance, and the ability to provide safe pedestrian and bicycle crossings.
A hybrid emergency-pedestrian signal is proposed at Ash Street. This signal will only be activated when a pedestrian or bicyclist pushes the button, or when emergency vehicles need to exit or enter the fire station
These signals will use video detection. Route 30 will have a green light unless a car approaches on one of the side streets.
While it is possible to set the signals to flashing yellow during off-peak hours, it is not a typical design, and the video detection should remove the need for that.
Some examples of these types of shared use paths that run parallel to an adjacent roadway include:
to these types of facilities either as a path user or driver.
These roads with paths include
Given the recent change in MassDOT guidelines for bike accommodations along streets with higher volumes and speeds, there are several projects in design around the state that will have a similar type of shared use path running alongside a roadway.
Some of these projects in design include:
The conceptual plan presented at the 2018 Weston Town meeting was prior to any data collection and preliminary analysis. While the current design is similar to the initial concept, changes in multi-modal accommodations were required. These changes in project scope can occur for numerous reasons:
It was through this conceptual design process that we learned more information regarding the existing conditions (average daily traffic and vehicular speed) of Route 30 in Weston. In addition, design guidelines were updated by the MassDOT after the 2018 Town Meeting.
Analysis of the existing conditions and the update to the MassDOT design guidelines required modification of the proposed cross-section. The process and reasoning for the design change were discussed at various public meetings by way of the Traffic and Sidewalk Committee.
A 3.7 mile corridor project that is adding a shared use path, unfortunately, will involve some tree removal. Based on the layout of the 25% design and given the trees documented in the survey as well as the Town’s GIS located tree inventory, the tree removal count currently stands at 177 trees. The Town’s GIS inventory includes a tree health assessment and of the 177 trees: 39 are dead, 1 is in critical condition, 21 in poor condition, 71 in fair condition, 43 in good condition, and 2 in very good condition. There will be proposed tree plantings as part of this project that will replace trees at a goal ratio of 2:1 given that the proposed trees fit within the town-owned layout of the roadway within the project limits. A landscape architect and arborist will also be brought on board during the design process to assist with the proposed planting plan. In addition to trees, other vegetation may be proposed in some locations to improve screening for residential abutters and provide aesthetic landscaping improvements where space allows.
There have been numerous public meetings related to this project:
Traffic and Sidewalk Committee (T&SC) meeting:
Meeting with Project Team: Weston DPW, Engineering, Town Manager; MassDOT District 6, and design consultants Howard Stein Hudson (HSH)
Pre-25% Public Information Meeting hosted by the Traffic and Sidewalk Committee (T&SC):
Traffic and Sidewalk Committee (T&SC) meeting
Traffic and Sidewalk Committee (T&SC) meeting
Select Board meeting
The MassDOT 25% Design Public Hearing is tentatively scheduled
First, please know that the Town is not liable for damages incurred by plowed, thrown or moved snow and ice as the result of normal plowing operations. Further, the Town is not responsible for the following damaged items that are located within the public way: fences; lawns; shrubs; sprinkler heads; steps; or trees.
Mailbox ResponsibilityThe town will be responsible for mailboxes that are physically hit by a plow; however, the town is not liable for damage to mailboxes caused from heavy, wet snow being plowed. Mailboxes will not be repaired if they are in a deteriorated condition.Mailboxes and posts damaged by the impact of a snowplow will be fixed and/or replaced by the town with a standard wooden post and black box. The town will provide a check in the amount of $50 for homeowner’s use for any specialty mailbox and/or post that cannot be repaired.
To report plow damage, please contact the Department of Public Works at 781-786-5100. See also:
CodeRED is a web-based critical communication solution that enables local public safety personnel to notify residents and businesses by telephone, text message, email, and social media of time-sensitive information, emergencies, or urgent notifications. The system can reach hundreds of thousands of individuals in minutes to ensure information such as evacuation notices, missing persons, inclement weather advisories, and more are quickly shared. Only authorized officials have access to send alerts using the CodeRED system.
Any message regarding the safety of our residents and community will be disseminated using CodeRED. We will send out alerts via phone, text, email, and social media in a variety of situations including boil water notices, gas leaks, evacuation notices, police activity, fire emergencies, missing persons, and more. This is a community alert system to ensure you remain informed of important information. Please keep in mind that as you register to receive CodeRED alerts, you have the ability to select the types of messages you wish to receive and your preferred means of communication.
No, registering for CodeRED phone calls, text messages, and email are free. Simply sign up on our enrollment website and select your preferred means of communication.
A CodeRED message will have the caller ID # 866-419-5000 for emergencies and caller ID # 855-969-4636 for non-emergencies. We suggest that you program these numbers into your cell phone as a “new contact” and use “CodeRED” as the contact name. If you need to replay the message received, you can dial this number and listen to the message again in its entirety.
CodeRED is an important tool to help keep you informed and prepared for any emergencies that may occur in our area. Officials will send messages to alert you of emergency details, instructions, or precauti ons that you need in order to make well-informed decisions and remain safe. This system is precise enough to geotarget residents within an exact area of impact, so that only those people who are affected by emergency situati on are notified.
Visit the CodeRed registration page here and enter the required information online (address, name, phone number(s), and email). This is the quickest way to sign up because the information you supply is immediately registered in the system.
No resident should assume that their information is in the system. All residential and business landline phone numbers in Weston are uploaded into the system and on a recurring schedule; however, to ensure emergency alerts are received on a preferred device (cell, text, or email), all residents should log into their accounts to ensure mobile numbers and/or email addresses are added to your account.
Yes, you can register more than one phone number and/or email address for your location when you register for CodeRED. Please note that it is highly recommended you register at least one phone number and one email address to ensure that you will receive CodeRED alerts in the event of a power outage or an incident that may occur late at night when you are generally asleep. Visit the CodeRed registration link.
Make sure to have at least one working corded telephone on hand for these situations. However, when signing up for CodeRED, you may indicate both a primary and alternative phone number. Cell phones and/or work phone numbers can be entered as alternatives. Both your primary and your alternative phone numbers will be contacted in the event of a CodeRED notification.
If you receive a CodeRED phone call, listen carefully to the entire message. You can repeat the message by pressing any key. Do not call 911 for further information unless directed to do so, or if you need immediate aid from the police or fire department. If you receive a CodeRED email or text message, please be sure to read the entire message carefully and follow all instructions.
The CodeRED system will leave a message on your answering machine or voicemail if you miss a CodeRED phone call. If you do not have an answering machine, the system will consider the call as “incomplete” and will attempt to call again after several minutes have passed. If your phone line is busy, CodeRED will try two more times to connect. At any point, you may re-dial the 800 number on your caller ID to hear a replay of the message sent.
Renewals are not necessary as long as your contact information has not changed. If you move, however, you must update your information to ensure you will continue receiving these valuable notifications.
CodeRED offers a mobile app for Android and iPhone devices. All residents and business owners are encouraged to download the free app to receive alerts based on the geo-locati on your phone. As you travel throughout other CodeRED communities, you can receive important alerts that include community, emergency, and severe weather information. To download the CodeRED Mobile Alert app, visit Google Play or the App Store.
The Weston Cultural Council, administered at the state level by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, receives state funds to be granted at the local level. The Town of Weston also provides a matching amount in their annual budget. Municipally-appointed volunteers meet and decide how to distribute the money to projects that promote access, education, diversity and excellence in three areas: the Arts, Humanities, and Interpretive Sciences. Weston Cultural Council (WCC)
According to requirements determined by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, funds are to be used for arts, humanities, and interpretive sciences. There must be a public benefit. Applicants may not be discriminated against on the basis of race, sex, religion, creed, color, national origin, disability or age. Funds must not be used to substitute or replace current or previously funded public programs of a municipality, such as schools or libraries.
The Weston Cultural Council recently conducted a town-wide survey to help set priorities for funding. These priorities include, but are not limited to the Arts — including the performing arts (e.g. music, theater, film), visual arts (painting, drawing, sculpture, photography), crafts, folk, design, and interdisciplinary arts; the Humanities — including history, social studies, philosophy, criticism, and literature; and the Interpretive Sciences — including lectures and activities to engage people in nature, science, and technology in ways that connect to their lives. Grant applicants are not required to be Weston residents; good quality, entertaining and sustainable programs from non-residents will be considered, particularly if the program is of particular interest to Weston. Applicants are encouraged to work with local institutions such as the Weston Public Library, the Arts and Innovation Center, and the Council on Aging to secure a venue in advance for their program. Programming can be in-person, online, hybrid, or hands-on where appropriate.
Grants must have a local venue/connection. Funds are not to be used as the sole means of support for projects of a continuing nature. Reapplications for continuing projects are occasionally funded, but the Council encourages groups not to rely on Council funding on a yearly basis and to develop other sources of funding. Funds may not be used for the purchase of food. Funds for scholarships are available to applicant organizations or individuals and must demonstrate community benefit. A complete list of requirements is available and can be found on the
Local Cultural Council website.
Due to the limited amount of funds available, the majority of grants funded are for less than $1000. Partial funding is frequently offered by the WCC and smaller requests are more likely to be funded in full..
Grants have supported an enormous range of activities, including community-wide festivals, concerts, and plays; exhibitions and projects by local artists; nature, science, and environmental education programs and participatory activities; video productions; after-school youth programs; workshops in writing and the visual arts; local history and cultural diversity projects; and lectures and book discussions in the humanities. A list of past Grant Recipient projects is listed on the Weston Cultural Council web page.
Grant applications must be submitted via the MCC website from September 1 through October 15. The Weston Cultural Council then meets to review the grants and determine which to approve. Funds generally become available after January 1st and are paid directly once a contract has been signed and returned by the grantee. Projects must be completed within the following 12 months.
Applications must be submitted online on the Mass Cultural Council website on the Local Cultural Council page, under Weston.
Contact Christine Martin, chair, at email@example.com
The Water Master Plan (Plan) provides a comprehensive overview of Weston’s water system and infrastructure, taking into account current and projected water usage over the next two decades. It allows the Town to take stock of current population trends and water usage patterns, to make reasonable projections of population and water needs, and to identify where infrastructure investments are needed to ensure that the system can provide service to the community. Twenty years is a standard planning period for this type of study: far enough into the future that currently observable trends can be anticipated, and not so far into the future that the time frame exceeds our confidence. Mechanical equipment has a service life of about 20 years, but water pipes and storage tanks have a long useful life and thus require long planning periods of 50 or more years. The purpose of the Water Master Plan is to provide the Town with a road map to take us from the present to the future, confident that we have anticipated likely issues pertaining to our water service.
The Plan provides a detailed-enough look at our existing infrastructure and our likely future needs that we can confidently begin to address areas of concern regarding the Town’s provision of water. Weston is primarily a residential community. Increases in residential population, including increases due to 40B housing projects, have a nominal effect on water supply needs and therefore these plans typically only need to be updated every ten years, and in some cases every five years. Because our Plan is three years old, an update at this time would not provide appreciably different conclusions. Instead, it is now time to move to implementation of the Plan that we have.
The Plan is a flexible document that gives us the data we need to shift our priorities as needed. The highest priority identified in the Plan is to increase the system’s hydraulic conditions by increasing storage capacity and raising the height of the tanks. The need for increased storage capacity and increased height are critical and fundamental components of this Plan and would be part of any future plan. Further, the Paine’s Hill Tank has continued to deteriorate since 2019, giving the Town even more reason to focus on the Paines Hill Tank project as its first action item. Prior to construction, the Town will confirm final overflow elevations and system hydraulics and operations, identify suitable properties on which to construct tanks, and detail construction sequencing and hydraulic needs while each of the tanks are being integrated into the system.
Thankfully, tank failure is not imminent, giving us a little time to plan. Our current water tank infrastructure presents us with two major issues: 1) the existing tanks are of inadequate height to serve the Town’s current and future water needs; and 2) the tanks are very old and nearing the end of their useful lives. The greatest water supply risk facing the Town is due to the inadequacy of the height of the tanks, which nearly ran dry during the drought of 2016. The Town was extremely lucky to avoid a catastrophic water failure in 2016, but counting on luck is no way to run a water system.
All of our water tanks are old; on average, nearly 80 years old. Since we know that we will need to replace them soon anyway, we want to be prudent and take future needs into account in designing new tanks. We continue to maintain Paines Hill Tank, our most vulnerable tank, but we have reached the point where replacement makes more sense than expensive repairs. Paines Hill, which is a concrete tank, is of an old, outdated design and cannot be repaired to provide any meaningful service life: it is at the end of its serviceable life. Even if this tank were repaired, it would require constant ongoing repairs because of the continuous deterioration that will occur. Repairs on this tank will become increasingly expensive and will provide diminishing returns. Paines Hill Tank is our largest tank; it is the lead tank of the entire water system. The failure of this tank would be catastrophic. The bottom line is that it is time to replace the Paines Hill tank.
Regarding the other two tanks, Cat Rock and Doublet Hill, we could maintain those tanks for a few more years. Generally, painting a tank can give it an additional 10-20 years depending on the quality of the application and environmental conditions. However, as noted above, repairing the tanks without making them higher does not address the Town’s critical need for active storage capacity.
Replacement of the Paines Hill Tank was listed as the highest priority action item and is still the Town’s first priority. (Plan section 8.3.1.) Active storage volume is a function of the height of the water tanks. The tanks all need to be the same height eventually because they function together as a single system, and the system is only as effective as its lowest tank. Increases in tank height also require improvements in pumping to lift water to the new, higher, elevation. As it happens, the main pump station is also due for an upgrade. It is a fortuitous coincidence that the pumping system needs to be replaced at the same time the Town needs to raise its tank elevations.
After replacing the tanks and making some smaller, localized water system investments, the Plan’s next priority is to add a second, redundant, connection to the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA), the source of the Town’s water. We should note that the MWRA pipeline has not had any reported breaks and appears to be in good condition. In the unlikely event that the MWRA connection fails, the MWRA, working with the Town, has the capacity to remedy any breakdown within a very short time, likely within hours or at most a day. The MWRA has initiated a process to coordinate with Weston and the Town of Wellesley regarding the secondary line, and the Town is taking preliminary steps to address the issue of the redundant pipe. The recommendation for a second MWRA line is for contingency purposes only and is thus has a lower priority than increasing the active storage in our tanks. Our ability to provide water and fire protection, and to protect houses and businesses, is more important than the addition of a redundant pipe to back up an existing pipe that shows no signs of imminent failure. We have plenty of water; what we lack is the storage capacity to use it.
We have been asked whether adding a second feed main from the MWRA that would operate in parallel with the existing pipe, and adding a fourth pump to the pumping station, would increase the water system’s reliability and capacity. The answer is that it would not, because the Town’s existing pump station has adequate pump capacity now, and pumping alone cannot remedy the lack of storage capacity; only additional water tank height can do that.
Water conservation is a goal we should all strive for, but our aspirations to be better water stewards is not reliable enough for an engineering design. Weston can and should increase its promotion of conservation to reduce water use, and we have taken steps to encourage water conservation. The Town requires green building certification standards for new municipal buildings. For houses that come under Planning Board review, the Town mandates the use of water efficient fixtures and “smart” irrigation systems for newly constructed or renovated homes. The Select Board has established a three-tiered water rate system so that consumption of water above certain thresholds is charged at much higher rates.
Conservation of water might help Weston lose the distinction of having the highest per capita water consumption in the state. Water use in Weston is largely driven by lawn irrigation. Average daily demand for water during the summer months increases between 35-50% over average annual water use. Education of residents regarding the detrimental impact of large lawns on our water consumption rates may help to bring down water consumption. However, unless water conservation is mandated and enforced, which will be very unpopular and difficult, any reduction in water use would be purely speculative and could not form the basis for design of a water system. Further, the reduction in water usage by conservation will not change our need for additional water storage capacity.
The water that is “stored” in the tank is like the savings in a bank account. It is there for the times that current demand exceeds current pumping capacity and when needed for firefighting purposes. When there is no storage capacity (e.g., savings), pumps have to work nonstop to provide water into the tanks as fast as demand draws it out. Further, the volume of water needed to fight a fire, on top of daily water usage, is significant and can only come from storage. When a fire occurs on a day of peak demand, when water users are drawing water out as fast as it is pumped into the tanks, water to fight the fire must come from water stored in the tank. The requirement that water for firefighting come from water stored in the tank is a standard condition of water engineering, in addition to being required by the State and the Insurance Services Office that sets the Town’s insurance rates.
If water in the tanks is flowing out faster than it is pumped in, the level of water in the tanks will drop. During the drought of 2016, there were only 30 inches of water left in the bottom of the Paines Hill tank. This would not have been enough to fight a fire if one had occurred in that moment. We were lucky to avoid a disaster. It was our wake-up call to address the system’s deficiency.
The storage capacity of the tank is directly related to the height of the water tank and the height of the buildings that it serves. If buildings are located as high as, or higher than the tank, the water level in the tank must remain as high as possible to maintain the proper pressure.
In technical terms, the lack of active storage in the system is directly related to the maximum serviceable grade line (or elevation) at which the system can provide customers with a reliable minimum pressure. As discussed in detail in Section 5 of the Plan, Weston has a significant deficit of active storage, or usable water volume, beyond daily needs. The active storage is based on the operational range of the tank and the service elevations of the system’s customers; it is not the same as the total volume of water in the tank. Under current conditions, in order to maintain service to higher elevations, the pumps run continuously during times of high demand to keep the tanks as full as possible.
Water tank height is what provides water pressure. More height is needed to serve customers close to the tanks, who currently have inadequate pressure.
The Plan suggests that the Town’s current yearly pipeline replacement program has been underfunded. The recommendation is that Town should target replacement of 1-2% of the total system length per year, so that the total system is fully replaced every 50-100 years. The Plan recommends that the yearly pipeline replacement budget be increased to a minimum of $1.8M per year. This suggestion was reviewed in light of the Town’s experience with pipe conditions and maintenance. The useful life of distribution system piping is impacted by several factors: pipe material, water quality and hydraulic conditions such as water pressure and velocity. The Town believes that the distribution system is in relatively good shape and that our investments in the pipeline program are appropriate.
The Town has in fact been increasing its investment in the water distribution system: we budgeted $678K for this purpose in FY 23, and are proposing $475 in FY 24. The Town has been working diligently to replace the few remaining Asbestos Cement pipes in the distribution system. Only about 3% of the Town’s pipes remain Asbestos Cement.
We cannot solve our water issue by relying on pumps. It is true that in very small water systems consisting exclusively of residential customers, pumps can be sized to provide peak-hour demand and firefighting volume. In fact, that is exactly how our small Black Oak pump station is designed to work. But this station only serves a very small population. In large systems, meeting peak-hour demand and firefighting volume would require prohibitively large and expensive pumps.
Under standard water engineering practice, pumps are designed to meet the maximum-day demand, and tank water storage is designed to supply the peak-hour demand above the capacity of the pumps. To instead design a system that relies on pumps to meet the peak-hour demand would be complex, requiring more pumps to supply a greater range of flows. Not only would we need more pumps, but the pumps would need to be more powerful. Furthermore, system piping would need to be significantly upsized, all of the electrical systems in the pump station would need to be increased, the capacity of the emergency generator would need to be increased, and the control systems for the additional pumps would need to be upgraded. Using pumps rather than tank storage to meet peak-hour demand would be complicated and less reliable than using water tanks with adequate storage capacity. Furthermore, the Insurance Services Office, which sets the Town’s insurance rates, does not consider reliance on pumps alone to be a suitable or reliable provider of water for large fire flows. The State also requires that water needed for firefighting come from water storage.
Engineering practice and state guidance both dictate that pumps be designed to meet only the maximum-day demand. Water demands that are higher than that, such as peak-hour demand, should come from water storage. Our pumps were designed so that one pump meets average-day demand, and two pumps meet maximum-day demands. The third pump is a backup pump.
Besides being the economical way to provide water pressure, storage from a water tank of adequate size and elevation harnesses the power of gravity, which is much more reliable than electric pumps. Gravity works even when the power goes out. That is why tanks of adequate size and height are the standard, tried and true approach to the provision of municipal water. As climate change increases our need for resilient systems in the face of ever-fiercer storms, a water system based on the power of gravity rather than the electrical grid is by far the wiser approach.
Weston should consider requiring a review of all new homes proposed at higher elevations to determine the impact they will have on the capacity of the system to provide water service. Unlike other towns, Weston does not require the water department to review new development and approve or deny the development based on the system’s hydraulic capacity.
The Town should consider curtailing any future development until storage can be added to the system to ensure that adequate firefighting capacity is available.
The Water Department prefers to maintain a three-tank system. A three-tank system allows the Town to provide better water service by spreading the storage throughout the system. If one tank requires repairs or maintenance, the other two tanks can meet the Town’s needs temporarily. On the other hand, if we had only two tanks, taking one tank out of service would reduce Weston’s storage by half and would mean that we would need to build even larger tanks to compensate for the smaller size of the system.