Mayor Scott Galvin and Members of the Woburn City Council
Woburn City Hall
10 Common Street
Woburn, MA 01801
Dear Mayor Galvin and Members of the Woburn City Council:
Re: Appropriation for Residential Water Meters
The reason I signed the Administrative Consent Order (ACO) with the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) back in 2008 resulted from sound legal advice I received from our city’s attorneys. This advice convinced me that the city had no other option than to cooperate and resolve outstanding issues we had with the DEP (Department of Environmental Protection). The DEP was established by the state legislature and has statutory authority to enforce regulations throughout the Commonwealth pertaining to water use and a number of other water and sewer related matters. This was the third time that I am aware of where ACO’s were executed by the City (via its mayor) and the DEP. It is also fair to say that a number of other communities in the Commonwealth have entered into ACO’s with the DEP to avoid unnecessary enforcement actions.
The DEP maintains records that show that Woburn’s water usage far exceeds the usage of comparable communities that already have residential water meters. This is hard information to refute and would become very compelling in any legal action. It certainly does not seem in our best interest to wage a potentially costly legal challenge…..a challenge that was explained to me as one that would be destined to fail. The more likely outcome of any legal challenge would be that a court will eventually order the city into compliance and the city will run the risk of having to pay substantial DEP fines on top of significant legal fees.
If any legal questions remain, I would urge the mayor and the council to obtain a second legal opinion before making any final decisions. This entire issue has to be considered from: (a) its legal perspective and (b) in light of the authority delegated to the DEP by the state legislature. Seeking competent legal advice at this point may seem to be a reasonable approach as you consider the implications of this appropriation along with any other matters as they pertain to the ACO.
I trust that at the end of the day that you will take the responsible course of action.
Thomas L. McLaughlin
Editor's note: Letters to the Editor are printed upon receipt; content is unedited and is the letter writer's opinion.