Frequently asked questions…

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions regarding the Oak Bluffs Water District.

If you have trouble finding an answer, or have a different question, please phone us (508-693-5527) or send an email.


How is the Water District planning for the future?

Although a consultant’s report indicates supply to meet anticipated growth through 2023, water use trends are frequently reassessed.

The Commonwealth reviews and modifies Public Water Supply water withdrawal permits every five years. If certain benchmarks are not met, the amount of water we are allowed to withdraw from the Aquifer may be reduced. For example if the average residential water consumer uses more than 65 gallons each day, the withdrawal permit may be made more stringent. Similarly, if the amount of water lost through leakage of underground water piping exceeds 10%, the water withdrawal permit can be impacted.

Though a combination of measures such as public education and outdoor water use restrictions, we maintain water withdrawal below permit limits or face heavy financial penalties!

I have a leak on my service line. Will the Water District fix it?

The Water District is only responsible for repairs and replacements of water mains in the street, the connection from the main to the shut off valve (usually at the property line), and meters and remote reading devices.

The customer is responsible for these items:

  • service line from the shut off valve to the home or business
  • all plumbing on private property
  • the meter pit if your meter is located outside in the ground
  • repairs to frozen meters where adequate protection was not supplied.
I have received a bill that is higher than normal. What should I do?

The first thing to do is request an actual meter reading to verify that the bill is correct, or you can check the meter yourself if you wish.

If the reading is correct and no other changes have occurred in the household, you probably have a leak. Most often, higher than normal readings are caused by toilets running due to an incomplete seal in the back of the toilet. This type of leak may be intermittent and it may not be audible. It can often be corrected by the homeowner replacing the rubber seal and ball or may require a plumber. Leak detection tablets for your toilet leaks are available at the office.

Be aware that the Water District regulations do not allow for abatements for leaks.

I’m selling my house and moving. What do I do?

Usually the lawyers will handle this matter with our office by asking for a final owed amount. The District will change the name of the old owner with the name of the new owner at this time.

Why can’t I walk in the Lagoon Pond well area?

The Lagoon Pond Well station #1 is a protected watershed. This area is Oak Bluffs Water District property and responsibility to protect the general public’s drinking water supply. The Lagoon Pond Coal Barn has recently become a concern due to its degradation and because of this we had to lock the second gate and keep people out because of liability.

We the Oak Bluffs Water District understand that in the past there have been right of ways given to contributors of the land and the Conservation Commission. We are looking to change the second gate entrance to accommodate these right of ways so the trail can be reopened and the public can once again view the State of Massachusetts’ oldest operating well.

The right of way will be there for all Oak Bluffs residents to view station #1. We ask that anyone using the path that they please stay on the path and not try to walk around the station.  It will be monitored 24/7 by security.

Water FAQ's

How is our water treated?

The District has five wells and four pumping stations.  The water is treated at the pump stations.
Fluoride is added for preventing tooth decay.   Iron and manganese (naturally occurring minerals found in New England groundwater) are sequestered.
The pH and Alkalinity are adjusted to neutralize the slightly acidic characteristics of the groundwater so that it is less corrosive to piping and plumbing.
Numerous tests are performed, ranging from continuously, for monitoring pH and other treatment plant performance indicators, while other parameters are analyzed daily, weekly, quarterly or annually depending on regulatory requirements.

Outdoor Watering Restrictions

Please read this information on our Outdoor Watering Ban during peak usage summer months – PDF will open in a new window

Where does our water come from?

The Oak Bluffs Water District receives its water from five supply sources, the Lagoon Pond Well, the Farm Neck Well, the State Forest Well, the John H. Randolph, Jr. Well, and the Madison Alwardt Sr. Well.  All four sources are groundwater supplied from the Island’s sole source aquifer.  Aquifer is the name given to underground soil or rock through which groundwater can easily move.  An aquifer is recharged from rainwater and snowmelt, and from lakes and rivers.

With careful use, and by reducing sources of pollution, such as seepage from landfills, septic tanks, leaky underground fuel tanks and sometimes fertilizers and pesticides, groundwater will continue to be an important natural resource.

The Lagoon Pond Well, (Well #1), off Barnes Road, consists of 7 gravel-packed wells.  Combined, they are capable of pumping 850 gallons per minute. (gpm).

The Farm Neck Well, (Well #2), on Tradewinds road, consists of 2 gravel-packed wells, put into operation in 1972.  Combined, they are capable of pumping 600 gallons per minute (gpm).

The State Forest Well (Well#3), off Airport Road, consists of a single gravel packed well, put into operation in 1987.  It is capable of pumping 1000 gallons per minute.

The Madison Alwardt Sr. Well (Well #4) off Airport Road, consists of a single gravel-packed well, put into operation in 2003.  It is capable of pumping 1000 gpm.

The John H. Randolph Jr. Well is capable of pumping 600 gpm.

This water system is interconnected with the Edgartown water system.  In the event of a water emergency, the Oak Bluffs water system can be fed by the Edgartown system.

Why do we have water restriction?

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has strict regulations on water withdrawals by Public Water Suppliers and other large water users such as farmers and golf course operators. We are obligated to carry out a multi faceted conservation program to encourage and assist our customers to reduce their usage as well as minimize the leakage on the underground water system piping.

Our water system currently has the capacity to pump and treat about four million gallons of water per day. Since the average daily use 1.44 million during the summer season, the District has more than adequate supply for most of the year. However, during the summer, demand may meet or exceed the system’s capacity which then must be replenished by rainfall events to maintain well levels. Also, water is stored in a large storage tank which must be kept as full as possible for health and safety (fire fighting) reasons. Excessive outdoor use during these times can impact the ability to provide these safeguards.