Candidate bio and qualifications

Thanks to everyone who helped put my name on this year’s ballot as a candidate for Groton Water Commissioner. Every signature was deeply appreciated, especially from those of you who don’t yet know who I am or why you should want me to represent your interests on the commission.

Let’s fix that right now.

Background

My name is Greg R. Fishbone. I live in the downtown historic district of Groton with my wife Dori and our two young girls. I grew up in Newton, where our water came from a distant part of the state and a reservoir that once swallowed up four disincorporated towns. Our water was taken from other communities and transported through other communities with no locally-sourced alternative.

In the summer of 2012, Dori and I moved our family to Groton. We attended a Groton Historical Society ramble and found ourselves for the first time on the scenic shore of Baddacook Pond. Looking out at the water and trees, we felt as if we’d been dropped into a spring water commercial. You remember the one where a pristine source is jealously guarded by woodland creatures? That one, except that it was “what it means to be from Groton.”

Community Service

Since making Groton our home, I have taken an active role in the community:

  • I am a member of the Groton Interfaith Council, which fosters understanding, respect, justice, and peace among people of a variety of religious traditions;
  • I am a member of the Groton Board of Trade, which fosters the business and agricultural growth that enhances our cultural and economic qualities of life;
  • I served on the Groton Town Meeting Review Study Committee, which investigated ways to promote and increase participation in Town Meeting;
  • I served on the Groton Reads Committee, which coordinates a community-wide reading event for the Groton Public Library;
  • I served on the Stop the Pipeline Coordinating Committee of Groton, helping to ensure that New England energy policies were designed to serve the needs of local residents rather than just maximizing corporate profits; and
  • I serve on the Board of Directors for the Groton Historical Society, which is working to preserve Groton’s past and familiarize the public with Groton’s local history and traditions.

Qualifications

As an attorney, licensed in Massachusetts since 1996, I am familiar with matters of legal compliance, the interpretation of state and federal regulations, and the often-tangled and overlapping jurisdiction of regulatory bodies. I am conversant with environmental issues, matters of resource conservation, public health, and public safety. As a Groton Water Commissioner, I will guide the Groton Water Department in compliance both with the law and with our shared community values.

As a small business owner, I strive to embody a commitment to service, integrity, and innovation. Through Groton Pixel, my web design company, I specialize in helping organizations with their customer service, stakeholder outreach, and information sharing. As a Groton Water Commissioner, I will guide the Groton Water Department to improve outreach and implement new technologies.

As Groton Water Department customers, my wife and I want water that’s safe, reliable, and affordable. We want the pitcher of tap water on our table at every meal to be a healthy option for our children. We want to know that the fire hydrant near our home is properly pressurized in case it should ever be needed. As a Groton Water Commissioner, I will keep the Groton Water Department focused on public health and safety, and also on conservation to ensure that our water resources continue to meet town needs well into the future.

Beliefs

I believe that whether you get your water from a private well or a town well, we are all tapping into a shared resource that’s limited, sensitive, and precious.

I believe we all have a duty to protect and steward that resource, both by our personal conservation efforts and by electing public officials who share our community values and priorities.

I believe there’s a gap between what the Groton Water Department has been doing and what it could be doing. It’s the gap between “good enough” and the excellence we deserve.

As your Groton Water Commissioner, I will work hard to close that gap.

Thank you for your time and attention.

–GRF

Register to vote!

The Voter Registration deadline for both the Spring Town Meeting and the Annual Town Election is Tuesday, April 5 at 8:00 PM.

Groton’s 2016 Spring Annual Town Meeting will be held beginning on Monday, April 25 at 7:00 PM at the Groton-Dunstable Middle School Performing Arts Center.

Groton’s 2016 Annual Town Election will be held on Tuesday May 17, 2016.

Please visit www.townofgroton.org for developing information on both events.

Good Enough Is Not Good Enough

The other day, I received a phone call from someone conducting a customer satisfaction survey on behalf of the Groton Electric Light Department. He asked how satisfied I was with GELD on a scale of 1 to 10 and, to establish a baseline, how satisfied I was with other utility suppliers including the Groton Water Department.

Of course I gave GELD high marks for their tireless efforts to modernize their operations, to promote their conservation initiatives, to give back to the community, and to engage rate-payers through a well-designed website, informative newsletter, and responsive outreach through the Talk About Groton listserv.

When asked about the Groton Water Department, all I could honestly say was that it’s good enough. I trust that our water is safe and healthy. I trust that our fire hydrants are sufficiently pressurized. I trust that GWD is doing its part to preserve our all-important subterranean aquifers. But when it comes to modernized infrastructure, customer outreach, and conservation, GWD falls far short of the standards established by GELD.

Let’s talk about infrastructure, using Whitney Well as an example. When the pump at Whitney Well switches on, it uses electricity from the grid to run at full force for as long as it’s needed, and then it switches off. But if there were solar panels on the site, we could be saving electricity that’s needed to keep our air conditioners running on hot summer days. And if there were a variable controller on the pump, it could run at less than 100% power, reducing wear and tear on the parts, increasing reliability, and lowering maintenance costs. The current pump is good enough to bring water to the surface, but we deserve better.

Let’s talk about customer outreach, using the GWD website as an example. I’ve been building websites for over twenty years. In that time I’ve seen the full evolution of best practices from basic HTML to the mobile-friendly sites of today. The GWD website doesn’t just use antiquated code from a previous decade; it uses code that was ill-advised and ill-considered in a previous decade. When you view the source code of a page and see Microsoft Office namespaces, run away! The current GWD website is good enough to hold content, but we deserve better.

Let’s talk about conservation. The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection has adopted a standard of 65 residential gallons per person per day as their benchmark of efficient water usage. For the five-year period from 2010 through 2014, GWD averaged 62.8 residential gallons per person per day, which is good enough to meet the standard. But for the same five-year period, our neighbors in West Groton did even better; the West Groton Water District averaged 59.2 residential gallons per person per day. Conserving water among GWD rate-payers as well as rate-payers are doing in West Groton would save thousands of gallons of water each and every day, preserving our valuable town resources and saving on our water and sewer bills.

My name is Greg Fishbone, and I am running for Water Commissioner because Groton deserves a water department that’s so much better than just good enough. I hope I can earn your vote. Feel free to contact me with your questions and ideas at gfishbone@gmail.com, and thanks in advance for your support!

–GRF