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Tetrachloroethylene (“PCE”) is a manufactured chemical used for dry cleaning and metal degreasing and in the aerospace industry. The chemical is also found in older water mains, which the Town in their capital improvement plans are identifying plans for replacement. Is our drinking water unsafe? Per consultation with the Water Department and Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, the water is safe for use.
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Alert the Water Department by phone or email with instances of brown water.
We realize this may become tedious in the case of consistent discoloration but the Town can't work to address your specific issues if we don't know about them.
The inbox is monitored by the Water Department. Emails that contain a question or something that requires follow-up will receive a response. If the email is a submission of data, they do not respond.
The simple answer is that there is still iron and manganese in the water infrastructure that remain in our system. What causes these minerals to show up in our water in our homes and businesses is a bit more complicated.
Here are the primary culprits:
In 2022, Town Meeting authorized $3 million in water main improvements. The Department of Public Works has utilized this funding to address the oldest pipes and pipes that have consistently been susceptible to breaks. Public Works staff are working with Weston & Sampson, the Town’s contracted engineer, to develop a comprehensive capital plan for all of the water infrastructure.
Make sure whoever manages your service line flushes the home or complex, it could be your own pipes.
Refer to the manufacturer and / or installer of the system for professional advice. We also recommend higher quality, permanent filters that can be cleaned regularly instead of those that need replacement every few months.
The Town suggests the following testing facilities, all of which are certified by the Department of Environmental Protection:
Be advised that some testing companies also work with filtration companies, so their results could be skewed to benefit those partners. You may want to inquire about this before choosing a testing facility.
Submit results to Email Water Department. We will then send those results to our consultants, Weston & Sampson, to interpret.
According to the U.S. EPA, manganese is one of the most abundant metals on the earth's surface, making up approximately 0.1% of the earth's crust. As a result, it is naturally occurring in many surface and groundwater sources.
It is a naturally occurring element that can be found throughout our air, soil, and water. It is an essential nutrient for humans and animals but there can be health effects from overexposure.
The EPA recommends reducing manganese concentrations to 0.050 mg/L or less, though the lifetime health advisory value of 0.3 mg/L will protect against concerns of potential neurological effects.
For more information, visit EPA Website.
The Town will be working with Weston and Sampson to conduct a secondary water source study. With respect to a secondary source, groundwater source (i.e., wells) is an option for the community to consider. However, drilling wells may not completely solve the issue as veins of manganese are often riddled throughout the system. If we have manganese at 100 ft, we will likely have it at 300 feet It's also important to note that digging deeper is not always an option due to soil conditions and production.
Tetrachloroethylene (PCE) Sampling Results
The Water Department is required to conduct annual sampling of our water main infrastructure. If the sampling results identify substances in the water supply, we are required to notify users.
While the Town is working on plans and funding solutions to replace our infrastructure, we are also working with Weston & Sampson to identify solutions to “loop” the system, which means to keep consistent water flowing. In the area of sampling that had higher levels of PCE, this water main is at a “dead-end,” which means the water main terminates at the end of the street. Often at “dead-ends” any sediment or materials accumulate at the terminus of the pipe. “Looping the system would allow for the sediment or material to keep flowing and eventually flush out of the system. In the meantime, the Town flushes lines routinely, and in this particular circumstance, installed a “bleeder” of 5/gallons per minute to constantly flush the end of the line to remove any sediment or materials.
Yes. Per MassDEP requirements the Town is required to notify users and conduct routine testing. Since “bleeding” the lines, the levels of PCE have dropped far below regulated levels of 0.5 UG/L.