To the editor:

One of my top priorities as mayor will be protecting the city’s water supply from contamination.

The three main surface reservoirs the city depends on for water face potential threats from river flooding, extreme weather, combined sewer overflows, algal blooms and other effects of climate change.

The problem stems from the fact that the three reservoirs are linked and the water intake is close to the Artichoke dam where contamination would occur.

Engineers predict a 1-in-14-year storm could compromise all three reservoirs.

According to the city’s recent climate resiliency report, a combination of a very high tide and elevated river could compromise all three reservoirs that make up 80% of our drinking water supply, causing a public health crisis.

The situation is urgent because Newburyport does not have a backup water supply. The $1 trillion bipartisan federal infrastructure bill under consideration in Congress is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to protect Newburyport’s water.

We are already ahead of other communities because of the city’s Climate Resiliency Plan and the water, sewer and engineering departments’ proactive response to that plan.

I have firsthand experience working with state and federal agencies, and building the necessary relationships among municipal, state and federal governments.

I wrote and obtained an Environmental Justice grant from the EPA to work with FEMA, the Army Corps of Engineers and the National Park Service to address a perennial flooding problem in the city of Lawrence.

If I am mayor, we will be ready to take full advantage of any available funds.

Charlie Tontar


The letter writer is a Newburyport city councilor at large and candidate for mayor.

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