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The Board of Health was informed Wednesday of the state DEP's order to install a chlorine injection system.

Adams Water District Forced to Upgrade System

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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ADAMS, Mass. — The state Department of Environmental Protection has mandated that the Water District make nearly $1 million in upgrades to the system.
 
Water District Superintendent John Barrett told the Board of Health on Wednesday that DEP has ordered the district to install chlorine injection systems at all their pumps and said it is unlikely they will meet the Dec 31 deadline. 
 
"I just wanted to make you aware," Barrett said. "I don't know what is going to happen when the deadline comes around, but I didn't want you to get anything in the mail. I wanted to be forthcoming."
 
He said DEP asked the district over a year ago to install a "crude" temporary chlorine injection system only at one pump but after the boil-water order earlier this year, the district was told to install a permanent system at all three of the pumps.
 
The project was originally slated to cost $750,000 and was already at 70 percent design. Now it has to go back to the drawing board for a $950,000 project.
 
The Water District is a separate governmental body that operates the town's water system and infrastructure and supports the Fire Department. 
 
Barrett said there is a lengthy permitting process to go through and it would be impossible to get everything ready for Dec. 31.
 
"There is a lot of engineering that has to be added on, and I reached out the DEP and I think they are aware of the issues," he said. "There are budgets that are in play here along with permits. Our wells are in a wetland and they aren't in this town." 
 
Barrett said the district has hired legal counsel and begun a dialogue with DEP. 
 
"It will be a legal matter ... have sought legal representation and I think I will be going to Boston," he said. 
 
The district asked for an extension and DEP did allow it to focus on one pump at this time, however, Barrett said he did not want to spend money on engineering just to do it all over again.
 
He added that he is unsure what fine the district will receive or if the DEP fines it all.
 
Barrett said one benefit of the upgrade is the new monitoring system. Instead of relying on an antiquated telephone system that often fails the district will install a new radio-based system.
 
"I will be able to monitor everything that is going on in the well station right from my office in real time and I will be aware if anything goes down at that exact minute rather than relying on a phone system," he said. "Currently we are notified every 24 hours if there is an actual phone line there to tell me if something is wrong at the pump station."
 
The old system relies on underground cables that often fail especially when it rains. 
 
There are also options for a system that relays information through the internet. Although the district officials could check on the pumps directly from their phones, there is the possibility of hacking.
 
"This system will be contained within the town of Adams and it will only report to my office," Barrett said. "There are some that go online ... but you are opening up yourself to everything we know about cyber terrorism and I am not comfortable with that."
 
Barrett said there is no question about safety and currently the district is obsessively monitoring the system 210 times a month.
 
In other business, the board voted to adopt a new trash hauler policy that will align the town's standards with state standards. 
 
The new policy pushes recycling to the forefront by asking haulers to make it easier for clients to recycle. Haulers will also be asked to record and report how much they haul and where they are hauling from.
 
The board asked for input from the haulers themselves.
 
"There is a learning curb for us as and there is going to be a learning curb for the implementation for the haulers on this," board member Bruce Shepley said. "So I think this kind of cooperation only benefits everybody and we can work to get some of these questions answered."
 
One concern the haulers had was having to enforce recycling. The board said they would only have to offer the service and inform clients what can and can't be recycled. The board would enforce recycling. 
 
"You are not the police on this you can choose to inform the board of health that someone is not being compliant, and you can make the effort," Shepley said. "You are very specific on what you need to do but the rest falls on us."
 
The board added that they do not plan to change the permitting fee of $100.
 
"I would not ask you guys to pay more to do more for us, so I think in all fairness I don't think we need to change the fee unless there is some compelling reason," board member David Rhoads said.
 
The board complied other questions from the haulers and said they would get answers.
 
"I think some good questions got asked here and I think there are some good quick uncomplicated answers," Shepley said.

Tags: DEP,   water district,   

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