PLAINVILLE - Residents can expect to receive a questionnaire within the next few months to help evaluate the city’s drinking water, according to Valley Water President Don Vaughn.
The questionnaire was prompted by more than 100 complaints about the taste of the water and the plumbing issues hard water caused starting in December 2016. Typically, the state Department of Public Health, which oversees 2,500 water carriers, receives 30 to 50 complaints per town in a year, Town Manager Robert E. Lee said.
“We’re in the middle of the project and want to get it right and evaluate everything as fairly and objectively as we can,” Vaughn said. “[We’ll] put it out to customers and let them indicate to us what to do next.”
Lee had put out a call to residents, requesting that they contact him with any issues with water quality.
“I made it very easy for people to complain by contacting me directly instead of the Department of Public Health. I don’t know if that played a role in it, but the Department of Public Health announced that they had received a certain amount of complaints and they felt it was important for them to get involved,” Lee said.
State health officials completed tests on 32 local houses, businesses and municipal buildings. Those tests indicated the water was hard, which could cause scaling on water fixtures and eventually clogging issues if plumbing is not cleaned regularly. The water also was reported to have a distinct taste due to more minerals in the water. Neither of these effects are dangerous to health, and some minerals, such as calcium and magnesium, are beneficial.
All of the results met state and federal standards for maximum contaminant level, aesthetic quality, pH, color, turbidity and odor, but the water is considered “very hard.”
A public information forum was held June 8 to share the results of the tests and discuss possible courses of action.
“We are very appreciative of the assistance and guidance we’re getting from the state health department in this matter. They have taken it seriously and would like to see people more satisfied,” Lee said. “The reason you have a water system is so people will drink the water, not buy the water. We have had people say they won’t drink the water. We want to get the water company to a position where people want to drink the water.”
Since the meeting in June, Valley Water hired an engineering company to determine what strategies could be used on the whole system.
They were considering engineering analysis, water chemistry, effectiveness, technical feasibility and regulatory approvals. Valley Water also looked at other systems used for other cities to see what types of treatments they utilize.
Valley Water is currently evaluating all options to treat hard water and what costs are involved in each possible solution, said Vaughn.
“That’s not an easy thing to do. It’s not something you can just look up in the book. You have to look at a system and understand how it operates to soften the water,” Lee said.
“It’s going to be a process that will take a while. I’m not sure where it will end up, but we’re moving in a direction to resolve this issue once and for all.”
Once it has completed its investigation - which is now underway and consists of collecting water samples - Valley Water will send the questionnaire to Plainville residents.
Valley Water would like to send it out before the end of the year, Vaughn said. The project has been delayed due to the complexity of the engineering involved and its cost.
Lee said the town will also hold another information session, at which residents can hear what the potential cost would be and give feedback. Then Valley Water can come up with a solution.