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Water Department Superintendent John Barrett updates the Selectmen on Wednesday night.

Adams Fire District Given Extension on Well Upgrades

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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ADAMS, Mass. — The Fire District has been given an extension on two of its three mandated well upgrades.
 
Water Department Superintendent John Barrett told the Selectmen on Wednesday that the state Department of Environmental Protection will give the district until April 2019 to install chlorine injectors on two of its three wells. It had been told to have the nearly $1 million upgrades completed by the end of the year.
 
"It is what it is," Barrett said. "It is unfortunate but really we are not in that bad of a situation and we have some of the cleanest water around."
 
Originally the district had until next April to install temporary chlorine injectors that was slated to cost $750,000. However, after the boil water order in August, the DEP mandated that the district install permanent injectors on all four of their wells which upped the price to $950,000.
 
They also asked that the town do this by Dec. 31.
 
"At that point, we were at 70 percent design," he said. "They took the project and crunched it down into four months which is near impossible"
 
Barrett said he has been in communication with the DEP and it has extended the deadline to the original 2019 date for two of the wells but the district is still on the hook for one. 
 
"We have to bring one up to standard," he said. "We may or may not meet that and we are hoping that we do."
 
Barrett said the project will include an overhaul of the water system's monitoring system. The current system is antiquated and unreliable. 
 
"There will be a lot more safeguards and I think that is the way to go forward," he said. "This is the system that should really be there."
 
Barrett said the district did have to borrow for this project and although he did not have exact numbers did say water bills will go up.
 
"With everything we are going through and the time constraints this project is going to cost more," he said. "We hope that we can raise the rates at a steady pace."
 
The conversation then turned to the boil water order and the selectmen asked Barrett if the cause of the coliform that tainted the tank had been discovered. 
 
Barrett said it was probably caused by stratification when pollen and other materials enter the vents at the top of the tank and sit on the top of the water that tends to warm up. When this warmer water mixes in with the rest of the system, coliform can appear. It also was aided by the severe weather the county saw this year.
 
He said many water systems have this issue and the district plans to install mixers in the tanks to prevent this. 
 
"If you combine that with all of the severe weather — the hot the cold," he said. "All of that water is sitting in tanks and it is cooking, and we are having storms that are turning up water supplies that is how this happened."
 
He said the district also injects polyphosphate into the system to coat the pipes and prevent the leaching of iron, lead, and copper.
 
He said although it keeps the pipes "spic and span" it stimulates bacteria growth.
 
Barrett said Adams is one of the last systems in the state that does not chlorinate its water. 
 
The selectmen asked Barrett to reiterate that the water is safe to drink.
 
"The confidence of some of the residents is not very high after the boil water order," Chairman John Duval said. "Some people are just using bottled water."
 
Barrett said the water is being tested 210 times a month and unlike bottled water that comes from a public water source that consumers know nothing about, in Adams you can meet who oversees the water and see exactly what goes into it.
 
"We issue a consumer confidence report which is a synopsis of the year. You can see everything we tested and everything that happened," he said. "Bottled water comes from a public water supply where you don't get this information … here you know who is giving you your water and you know exactly what is in it."

Tags: DEP,   drinking water,   water district,   

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Adams Board of Health Address Open Meeting Law Complaint

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
ADAMS, Mass. — Because of a possible Open Meeting Law violation, the Board of Health will repeat its tobacco permit cap public hearing. 
 
The board voted Wednesday to repeat the hearing after being informed that there was the potential of a complaint.
 
"I think the main purpose of a public hearing is to make sure we hear public comment before we make a decision," board member Laura Grandchamp said. "There is a potential that that didn't happen for everybody at that meeting." 
 
On Aug. 13, the Board of Health adopted the new tobacco permit cap that would tie the number of permits allowed in town to the town's population.
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