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The Hospital and Water Quality at Wyer's Valley

To the Nantucket Community –

Given the recent coverage of Nantucket Cottage Hospital’s proposal to relocate to Wyer’s Valley and questions from the community, the Nantucket Water Commissioners would like to address the hospital’s project as it relates to our mission to provide the highest quality drinking water and protect our water resources.

In response to a request from the NCH to consider using Wyer’s Valley for the site of a new hospital we voted unanimously to allow Nantucket Cottage Hospital to explore this possibility and present a proposal to the Water Commission and the community. This was in recognition that the mission of Nantucket Cottage Hospital aligns closely with our own mission to protect public health on the island.

The Wannacomet Water Company is planning to decommission the 79 shallow wells at Wyer’s Valley that are located near the proposed site of the new hospital in favor of two new wells located farther to the east. The size, location and depth of these new wells will greatly benefit island water quality by increasing the protective zone I around these two new wells from 250 feet to 400 feet.  Below are a few questions and points to consider about the hospital’s proposal to relocate to Wyer’s Valley:

Where is the island’s aquifer located? Nantucket’s aquifer underlies the entire island.

Where does the Wannacomet’s water come from? Less than 30 percent of Wannacomet’s water comes from Wyer’s Valley. The vast majority, more than 70 percent, comes from lower aquifer wells in the State Forest off Lover’s Lane, and at North Pasture, off Polpis Road.

To protect the water that is pumped out of the ground from these wells, MassDEP designates the land around them into two zones.  

  • Zone 1 is an area that extends 400 feet around a water well and it is the most important with regard to protecting water quality. The proposed hospital would not be built in Zone 1.
  • Zone 2, is also known as the Wellhead Protection District, and encompasses a large area that stretches west to Hummock Pond Road and east into the Middle Moors. The many properties located within Nantucket’s Zone 2 include the Stop & Shop, the Boys & Girls Club, the former Glowacki land off Old South Road, and a portion of the current hospital site on Prospect Street, all of which have or will be subject to the same requirements for groundwater protection as the proposed location in Wyer’s Valley of the new hospital. All construction in Zone 2 must adhere to the town’s zoning bylaw and conform to the best management practices for protecting groundwater by collecting, treating and recharging stormwater.

The Wannacomet Water Company will ensure that the new building and parking areas are constructed with a state-of-the-art stormwater protection system that meets the standards mandated by town and state laws, and that a comprehensive monitoring program is in place. Wannacomet staff and consultants have been working with the Nantucket Cottage site engineering team on these issues and we are convinced that Nantucket Cottage Hospital shares our commitment and responsibility to protect our public water supply.

In summary, through the Wannacomet Water Company we are charged with the responsibility of protecting and managing our public water supply.  For over 134 years the Wannacomet Water Company, has been protecting Nantucket’s public water supply and has the necessary standards and regulations to ensure that the Nantucket Cottage Hospital proposal will not jeopardize our public water supply.  We hope this information will serve to clarify the discussion of water quality as it relates to the hospital’s proposal.  If anyone has questions or would like more information please contact Bob Gardner, General Manager of Wannacomet Water Company at 228-0022 or [email protected].  The Water Commission is also planning several public forums to discuss the Nantucket Cottage Hospital project as it relates to water quality and those dates and times will be forthcoming shortly.

The Nantucket Board of Water Commissioners

Nelson Eldridge                     Allen Reinhard                      Nonie Slavitz