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In late October of last year, the water level of Silver Lake was down 72 inches, or 6 feet. Three weeks later, in mid-November, the level had dropped another 8 inches. Large portions of Massachusetts remain under drought conditions, but Alex Mansfield and Pine duBois of the Jones River Watershed Association claim the lake’s demise is a preventable manmade crisis.
They and others blame the problem on decades of overuse and misuse of local and regional waters. The city of Brockton, for instance, takes about 10 million gallons daily out of Silver Lake and pumps it 20 miles through two pipes, one of which is more than 100 years old.
The water level of 640-acre Silver Lake, which touches three Massachusetts communities, Pembroke, Kingston and Plympton, is at a 30-year low, according to Mansfield. He said this fact shouldn’t surprise anyone. In fact, both he and duBois say it’s long been known that Silver Lake can’t sustain that amount of daily withdrawal. It can’t even sustain half the current daily allotment, according to duBois.
Mansfield said the city of Brockton tracks the lake’s water level and water quality daily. ecoRI News spoke with Mansfield and duBois on the evening of Jan. 4. They said Silver Lake’s water level was down another foot and a half from mid-November.
“This issue doesn’t have anything to do with drought,” Mansfield said. “It’s about the city taking too much water. And the thing is we haven’t seen anything close to the worst of it. We’re starting 2017 at a 30-year low, and it’s so low that the lake isn’t going to rebound by April. That’s a bad starting point.”