UMass Amherst’s Christine Hatch Will Bring Western Mass Perspective to State Water Resources Commission

Hatch will represent Western Massachusetts’s unique water needs and challenges in state agency

AMHERST, Mass. – Christine Hatch, extension professor of geosciences, was recently appointed a member of the Commonwealth’s Water Resources Commission. Hatch will be the only member of the commission representing Western Massachusetts.

christine hatch
Christine Hatch installing fiber optic cable with which she can monitor water temperature to track the flow of groundwater. Credit: UMass Amherst.

The Water Resources Commission is responsible for developing, coordinating and overseeing the Commonwealth’s water policy and planning activities to ensure that Massachusetts will have plentiful water to support health, safety, economic development and ecological vitality for generations to come.

Hatch, who is a hydrogeologist specializing in the interactions between surface and ground water, uses all sorts of tools, from drones to fiber-optic cables, to track the paths of groundwater.

“The water, and water issues, in Western Massachusetts are quite different from the eastern part of the state,” says Hatch. “We have comparatively pristine water and waterways out here. We also have hillier, steeper terrain.” This means that water policies designed for Boston won’t necessarily address the challenges west of the Connecticut River.

Among the biggest problems that Hatch sees on the horizon is the threat posed by climate change. “We will see more precipitation from far bigger storms. Which means more flooding. In Western Massachusetts, our streams will gain enormous erosive power, and our transportation infrastructure isn’t built for this. We need to prepare now.”

Hatch, whose term will run until July 2024, says that she’s honored to join the Commission and to help play a role in determining how to allow our rivers to do what they need to do when they flood in order to maintain river health while not endangering the human-built environment.