SWANSEA — A packed hearing room of approximately 53 people came before the Board of Water Commissioners to discuss dirty water and what could be done about it, during the meeting held Monday night at the Water District offices.
Resident Matthew Barbosa came before the board to discuss the dirty water and the assistant superintendent position.(See related story)
Residents voiced their frustration with the ongoing water problems in various sections of town. Antonio Oliveira noted that he had moved to town three months ago and that at least three times a week he goes to a hotel or his parents home and has cancelled appointments in order to be somewhere that does not have dirty water.
Other residents voiced their issues, including the water soiling the clothes in a washer. It was pointed out that the detergent agent available at the Water District does not get all of the stains out.
Mary Silvia, who has lived in the town for 45 years, noted that there was once a time that the Swansea water was the best and that they would "boast about it." She noted that the problems of discolored water have taken place in the last several years.
Another resident pointed out that the water color is not consistent. It was not that sometimes it looks like Coca-Cola and other times like ginger ale.
Chairman James Hall asked if anyone had samples of the water and collected six bottles with various degrees of discoloration. He noted that the samples would be taken to the laboratory to determine the amounts of manganese or iron are in it.
Chairman Hall took exemption to some comments on the social media that compared Swansea to Flint, Michigan. Flint has been in crisis since the water supply had an abundance of lead in it.
It was pointed out that Swansea water sources have no lead and that the only possibility of lead would be from soldered joints.
Supt. Robert Marquis noted that the suggestion that there was lead in the water supply was a "gross misrepresentation."
The superintendent explained that the brown water issues facing the District has been created by having the walls of the pipes in the ground for over 60 years developing a coat of manganese and iron over the years. The minerals are softened by the chemical process and move when water rushes through the pipes and strips the sides. The district has been attempting to clear the pipes with flushing. The flushing rushes the water through and picks up more of the minerals, discoloring the water. The district leaves signs indicating where the flushing was taking place.
Supt. Marquis added that in subdivisions that have a lot of sprinkler systems, the water use is higher and the force of the water affects the flow in the pipes.
The desalination process has also factored into creating more water flow that has affected the pipes.
It was pointed out that the desal plant in Lynn needed seven years to clean out the pipes. Further contributing to the problems was the District switching over to the summertime operations on June 9 that created a disturbance in the water flows.
Chairman Hall had 10 suggestions to address the brown water issue. One would be to make seven pipe cuts in problem areas and use cameras to determine the amount of minerals in the pipes. He would also want to have the contents tested to determine that manganese and iron are the only minerals there.
He also would like his colleagues on the board to have Supt. Marquis talk to the "guru" of desalination in Florida to talk about the problem.
Chairman Hall suggested a valve closure on Cypress to create a situation where the water to Kendra Drive is only coming from Route 6 to determine where the dirty water was coming from in that area.
The chairman had placed the locations of 150 complaint calls, to see if there was a pattern. He noted that there were hardly any problems to the northeast portion of town and that most were in the southwest from the Ocean Grove area out to the town line to the west.
He would also like to integrate with the GIS map for the town to better pinpoint where the problem spots are. It was pointed out that a home on one street could have problems and another three house lots away might not have any problem at all.
Supt. Marquis noted that the annual District meeting allocated funds to go towards the brown water issues and that money will be available after jUly 1. Chairman Hall noted that they should be prepared to go back to another meeting for supplemental funds if they go through the amount budgeted ($100,000.)
The board members voted to send the samples they had to the laboratory for assessment with the results to be placed on the website.