Section 9B. The division shall be the administrator of the state's contribution to the cooperative survey program of the United States Geological Survey, hereinafter referred to as the USGS, for detailed groundwater assessments and related hydrological studies. Said division, with the approval of and according to the criteria established by the commission, shall contract or cause a contract to be executed, with the USGS to conduct a ten year program of detailed groundwater appraisals, aquifer assessments, and such other appropriate geologic and hydrologic studies as may be required for the protection of existing sources of groundwater supply and for the identification of new groundwater sources.
Said groundwater survey program shall include aquifer identification and assessments of quality and yield, and direct technical assistance to localities to solve groundwater problems of less than regional scale. Assistance to localities shall be based on criteria and priorities to be established by the commission which shall include, but not be limited to, the following: a present or recurrent water supply deficit; areas in which the survey would serve more than one community; communities which have suffered loss of supply due to contamination; communities in which demands are placed on supply systems by state institutions; and local commitment to participation. Direct local assistance shall not exceed five hundred thousand dollars and shall be funded fifty per cent by USGS and fifty per cent by the commonwealth, and the total cost of said program shall not exceed, in the aggregate, five million dollars.
For the purposes of this section, groundwater shall mean water which is below the surface of the earth.