Shutesbury Aquifer Resiliency in the Face of Climate Change
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The climate is rapidly changing due to human activity, and these changes will impact our water resources. In the town of Shutesbury, Massachusetts, a municipal water supply does not exist. Instead, water comes from private wells that tap into a vast and complex bedrock groundwater system. Prior to this study, little information existed regarding the seasonal fluctuations, the sensitivity of the aquifer to short or prolonged drought, or the ability of the aquifer system to support future development in Shutesbury. Still less was known regarding how the aquifer system could potentially be impacted by climate change. Reports of lowering water levels in New Hampshire and the neighboring town of Pelham were a cause for concern. In 2014, eight monitoring wells were drilled at four locations in order to monitor seasonal changes in water level and to establish a baseline for future levels. Water levels were found to fluctuate seasonally, and despite a snow-heavy winter and summer drought, spring static water levels returned to similar levels each year. Based on the small amplitude of seasonal fluctuations, the lack of a lasting impact of the drought of 2016, and expected future increases in rainfall, it appears that the shared aquifer should continue to serve as a viable source for the town.