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Cambridge sues to block solar-panel project near its reservoir in Lexington

Cambridge Day reports the city of Cambridge has sued the Lexington Planning Board over its approval of a 5.5-acre solar-panel project along Rte. 128 near Cambridge's Hobbs Brook Reservoir. Cambridge is asking a judge to "annul" the board's approval over the project's potential impact on the water supply, including the loss of roughly 1,000 trees.

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There's no reason to create a fight between tree lovers and solar panel lovers until every rooftop and parking lot is already full of solar panels.

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Parking lot solar is 40% more expensive than ground-based solar, so that's one reason why it makes more sense to cut 5 acres of trees for this kind of project. If this tree cover was so critical to the Cambridge reservoir, why didn't they purchase the lot? There is zero chance we meet our state climate goals when every solar and wind project is litigated like this forever

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Expensive as hell and risk for fire.

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Cambridge water is the most disgusting-tasting water in the metropolitan area, and that's why. There was a heck of a lot of effort and foresight put into the creation and protection of the Quabbin watershed and why any town wouldn't want to partake of the MWRA system for the provision of such an essential product is beyond me.

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Cambridge water tastes just fine.

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I think it tastes awful.

Have you ever let a glass of Cambridge water evaporate? It leaves behind the saltiest powder you’ve ever tasted.

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Honestly, have you ever tasted it? It's absolutely dreadful.

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I live in Cambridge, where they switched to the Quabbin and back last year. I didn't notice a difference in taste.

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Which came first, the reservoir or the interstate? Could the reservoir predate the interstate?

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Who thought building an interstate near a water supply was smart?

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Also, Fresh Pond, the other Canatabridgian water source had lots of industry, brick pits. the town dump -, sorry Daheny Park, railroads (right up against) it for well over a hundred years.

That area of Waltham and Lexington around the reservoir before 128 was built was known for being one of the largest areas of piggeries in the state and their pre-clean water act runoff. Mmmmmm.

Let's not think that the Garden Of Eden was along Winter Street and Trapelo Road in 1956 when 128 went through.

If anything, the area is cleaner now than it has been in a hundred years.

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...the subject line of the comment I was responding to:

Cambridge should not have a reservoir abutting an interstate

If the reservoir predated the interstate, that was none of their doing.

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Since you live more than 90 miles away, where people speak with a different accent than here. I just wanted to be sure that you knew the history of the area.

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Since you never get out of your little cabbage patch, you are understandably confused that not everyone is as provincial as you.

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And this is why we're doomed.

Not kidding.

We can't seem to get out of our own way to get this stuff built. I get it. Cambridge has a watershed argument that makes sense. But I don't think it's as bad as it seems, but I am not a pro.

But also, maybe these folks in Cambridge who are think things will happen to 'water quality' if this happens should try to DRINK the current water coming out of Cambridge's faucets because they'd see that "quality" isn't one of the adjectives I'd use to describe the water over there. Yep its clear, but its nasty lake water that smells. Not exactly quality.

Tell me you've never had cambridge water, without telling me that you've never had cambridge water if you're concerned with "quality"

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Without telling me you have crappy piping efc

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Plus Cambridge insisting on having its own water supply has always been odd to me. The Greater Boston area has an incredibly good source of water and it's very efficient. Avoiding that creates situations like this tbh. Where Lexington can't do something because it might affect Cambridge slightly.

There are many things about Cambridge I like but sometimes that city does things that boggle my mind. I think they often forget that what they do is only possible because they literally have money flowing out of every crevice.

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If there were a serious, systemic disruption to the MWRA supply, it would be critical to have another source nearby. Keeping a second independent drinking water supply active in the area just makes sense.

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Having switched back and forth between Cambridge water and Quabbin water several times recently (and not just when Cambridge has moved to Quabbin water during the drought a couple of years ago) I've never noticed the difference. Maybe I'm hard of tasting but really one of these days I want to take Cambridge water and Quabbin water and do a blind taste test, I don't think I'd be able to tell the difference. Maybe some people are quite picky, but to me they both taste like water. (I have noticed water that tastes different, recently in Philly and notably in Phoenix, but never noticed Cambridge vs Boston.)

On another topic, if only Cambridge had been as concerned about 128 going through their water supply in the '50s. Maybe they should just build solar canopies over the highway?

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They were too busy fighting against the inner belt that would have destroyed Munich of the city to focus on that tbh. I’m sure there were people concerned at the time though, and since then we have learned a lot about water quality, and confirmed they would have been right to oppose it.

The idea for solar arrays over highways isn’t a bad one though. We really should only be putting solar on already cleared land.

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Worked in Cambridge off and on for 22 years and lived in Cambridge from 04 to 07. I don't usually buy bottled water, but I did when I lived in Cambridge because its so bad.

I grew up on an Artisan well water. Cold, clear, and fresh. No minerals, just clean mountain water. The water from the quabbin is about as close as I've come to similar tasting water.

FWIW.. the MWRA has some of the best tasting water in the country. Nothing by comparison is even close.

Other cities.. gross. Either over chlorinated, over processed, or it's not clear and crisp.. and it usually smells like lake water.

Best was going to Pheonix or even Los Angeles. Pheonix was gross, brown water from the tap and it was 'good as it gets' there. Made me want to go drink a gallon of water when I got home.

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Artesian - meaning from a really deep well that taps into an aquifer. It's not clear that you actually had that.

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We had two wells. A new one that was dug. 1349ft from the surface. Water rose to the top and was enough that we no longer had to use the pumping system we had, it provided enough flow to the faucets.

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There's some trials of floating solar arrays used in reservoirs and similar bodies of water. It's basically lightweight floating docks with traditional commercial panels mounted on racks.

The general thinking is that it's not cost effective yet compared to mounting the panels in a field. But maybe Cambridge should deploy these arrays anyway on the basis of encouraging the process and saving the trees. One upside is that it reduces evaporation and lowers the water temp. (Bigger concern out west.)

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Floating arrays make sense when humans store water in the desert. There are lots of experiments with floating panels in the Southwest.

1. You get more sun there, so the revenue is higher, and
2. You prevent the evaporation of a valuable resource -- water is far more valuable (scarce) in Arizona, Nevada, and parts of California than it is in the Northeast (plentiful).

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floating arrays seem like a decent idea, but the managing them through the winter months seems like a giant pain.

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My roof is not steep enough that snow slides off easily, and it's too high to rake. When it snows, I lose production until the weather warms enough to start the snow sliding off. I think panels floating on a lake would be worse. OK in warm places, but not where it snows.

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Seems like that would also help with managing some the algae issues

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Cutting down woodland to install solar panels has questionable at best environmental benefit. We really need to stop installing solar in green fields. MA needs a law that new solar arrays can only go in already cleared land. We still need to protect our ecosystems while transitioning our power supply.

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Former town dumps are a great option for solar arrays. Some of them even generate Methane, so if that was collected, they'd be multitasking. I think they put several acres of solar on a dump site in Tyngsboro. They did the same at the former dump in Lowell, too. And yes, highways would be good sites for solar, too.

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And yes, highways would be good sites for solar, too.

Yup, on medians, interchanges, on the side...

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Sure, I'd imagine loading the highways with panels will work great as they are removed and resold on the secondary market as fast as they can be installed.

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...I haven't seen it happen. The I-90 interchange in Natick has an array that I often go by. Doesn't mean it won't/can't happen, but jeez, give it chance.

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Holyoke built their huge solar project on the site of a coal plant - another good example. https://www.fastcompany.com/90286009/this-old-coal-plant-is-now-a-solar-...

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Sometimes, the choice is solar panels or condos/houses. This is very true out here in the semi-boonies of I-495 land. Lots of battles.

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Truly don't understand why there isn't a push for new development to require X number of covered parking spots with the panels on them. These are semi off-the-shelf products at this point, and do double duty of reducing heat spots caused by vast parking lots and collecting solar. Plus, because they are essentially roofs, it cuts down on light polution.

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Gotta love greenie vs greenie.

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Gotta love greenie vs greenie.

Only if you're a shithead.

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