ANNUAL REPORT ON YOUR DRINKING WATER: 2003, TEXT-ONLY VERSION
For Our Chicopee Valley Aqueduct Area Customers
MASSACHUSETTS WATER RESOURCES AUTHORITY
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THIS REPORT IS REQUIRED UNDER THE FEDERAL SAFE DRINKING WATER ACT PUBLIC LAW 104-12, SECTION 1414(C)(4) MWRA PWS ID #6000000, CHICOPEE PWS ID #1061000, SOUTH HADLEY, FD ID #1339000, WILBRAHAM PWS ID #1275000
This is a "right-to-know" report required to be sent to you under the U.S. environmental protection laws. It contains important information on the quality of your drinking water!
A letter from the Executive Director
Once again, I am pleased to send you this annual report on your drinking water quality. With the help of your local water and health department, the report describes how we treat and deliver the tap water to your home. It also includes the test results for 2003 and other important information – and the news is good: excellent source water, major improvements in delivery and facilities, and high quality tap water.
MWRA and your local water department have continually improved the Chicopee Valley system. These improvements include a new tank in 1999 and new disinfection facilities in 2001. Future construction is planned to improve system pipelines and use a stronger disinfectant. These advances will ensure future generations that their water is top quality through the century. We have been working closely with local water departments to make certain that these new facilities are brought on-line on schedule without any disruptions to service. I hope you will take a few moments to read this important report on your water. MWRA has great confidence in the water we deliver to over 2 million customers and we hope that this report will give you the same confidence. Please contact us if you have any questions or comments about your water quality, or any of MWRA’s programs.
Frederick A. Laskey Executive Director
MASSACHUSETTS WATER RESOURCES AUTHORITY
WHAT'S INSIDE (click links to jump to each section)
WHERE DOES YOUR WATER COME FROM?
MWRA SUPPLIES WHOLESALE WATER IN THE CHICOPEE VALLEY TO CHICOPEE, WILBRAHAM, AND SOUTH HADLEY FIRE DISTRICT #1 (FD#1). Your water comes from Quabbin Reservoir, which provides about 10 million gallons of high quality water each day to these three communities. Water from the Ware River can add to the supply at times. MWRA also serves 40 cities and towns of greater Boston and MetroWest.
Rain and snow falling on the Quabbin watershed - protected land around the reservoirs - turn into streams that flow to the reservoirs. Water comes in contact with soil, rock, plants, and other material as it follows nature’s path to the reservoir. While this process helps clean the water, it can also dissolve and carry very small amounts of material into the reservoir. Minerals from soil and rock, including low levels of natural radioactive minerals, do not usually cause problems in the water. But water can also transport contaminants from human and animal activity. These can include bacteria, viruses, pesticides and fertilizers – some of which can cause illness. The test results in this report show that these contaminants are not a problem in Quabbin Reservoir’s watershed. Quabbin watershed is protected naturally as over 90% of the watershed is covered in forest and wetlands. About 83% of the total watershed land cannot be developed. The natural undeveloped watershed helps to keep MWRA water clean and clear. Also to ensure safety, the streams and the reservoir are tested often by the MWRA, and the watershed patrolled daily by the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR).
MAJOR IMPROVEMENTS UNDERWAY
Water must travel through the 15-mile ChicopeeValley Aqueduct and through some hundreds of miles of local distribution pipes under your street before it reaches your tap. To continue providing high quality water, each part of the water system needs routine maintenance and, when necessary, major improvements or new facilities.
WATER TEST RESULTS
RESULTS FOR TREATED WATER-IN COMMUNITY PIPELINES
MWRA and local water departments work together to test water all the way to the tap. We test samples of water in the city and town systems each week for total coliform bacteria. Total coliform bacteria can come from the intestines of warm-blooded animals, and can also be found in soil, on plants, and other places. Most of the time, these bacteria are not harmful to humans. However, their presence could signal that harmful bacteria from fecal waste may be there as well. The EPA requires that no more than 5% of the samples in a given month may be positive for total coliform. If a water sample tests positive for total coliform, we run more specific tests for E.coli. E.coli is a pathogen (germ) found in human and animal fecal waste that can cause illness.
No coliform was found in any CVA community systems in 2003.
WATER TREATMENT - from the Reservoir to Community Pipelines Because of its excellent watershed conditions and protection, Quabbin Reservoir does not need a filtration step in its treatment. The state Department of Environmental Protection set special conditions in 1991 to maintain Quabbin’s high quality water. But, even high quality water must be properly treated. MWRA's licensed treatment operators treat water at the reservoir before it enters the Chicopee Valley Aqueduct. The first treatment step is the primary disinfection where we carefully add measured doses of chlorine to water to kill pathogens that may be present. Licensed operators from CVA communities perform additional booster disinfection, when needed, at the point where the local pipes take water from the Aqueduct. This process, called residual disinfection, protects the water while in the local pipes. Each community also treats the water to reduce leaching of lead from home plumbing.
CHICOPEE WATER DEPARTMENT: The treatment plant adds sodium bicarbonate (similar to baking soda) and three other compounds to adjust the water chemistry. This treatment has eliminated “red” water problems at the tap caused by iron from the water mains, green stains on home plumbing fixtures caused by copper, and the absorption of lead from home plumbing. The lead and copper data on the next page shows that this treatment has been very successful. As a result, Chicopee has been granted the option to reduce the frequency of sampling under the regulations from 30 sites once every six months to 30 sites once every three years. The next round of lead and copper sampling will take place in the spring of 2004.
SOUTH HADLEY FIRE DISTRICT #1 The Departments’ continued use of sodium silicate for corrosion control is still successful in complying with the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Lead and Copper Rule. Due to this successful use of silicate, the District successfully passed the requirements for Lead and Copper three years consecutively and is now required to sample every three years.
WILBRAHAM The Water Department’s Corrosion Control Program (CCP) continues to operate very well, as our lead and copper results have shown. The program is based on the flow-paced injection of sodium silicate into Quabbin water. Due to our effective CCP, DEP currently requires Wilbraham to sample for lead and copper only once every three years. We are currently scheduled to accomplish the next round of lead and copper sampling in the summer of 2004.
GOOD NEWS ABOUT LEAD IN TAP WATER
MWRA’s source water and the water in distribution pipes in your community is lead free. However, water left in contact with lead pipes or fixtures for a long time can leach out lead pipes, lead solder, and some brass fixtures, or the service line that connects the distribution main to your home plumbing, if it is made of lead.
WHAT ARE WE DOING ABOUT LEAD?
Your local water department tests tap water at a number of homes in the communities. But not just any homes. Under Environmental Protection Agency regulations, homes that are likely to have high lead levels - usually older homes likely to have lead service lines or lead solder — must be tested. The EPA rule requires that 9 out of 10, or 90%, of these sampled homes must have lead levels below the Action Level of 15 parts per billion (ppb). Lead levels found in tap water in sampled homes have dropped significantly since the CVA communities improved treatment to make water less corrosive. This means the water is less likely to absorb lead from pipes and other fixtures. All three CVA communities met the EPA standards for lead in tap water.
WHAT DOES THIS TABLE TELL ME?
This table lists results for lead, copper, sodium, and disinfection by-products including trihalomethanes and haloacetic acids. All results for lead, copper, sodium, and disinfection by-products were IN COMPLIANCE with drinking water regulations.
FURTHER INFORMATION ON RADON
Radon is a radioactive gas that is found in soil and tap water throughout the United States. Compared to radon entering the home through soil, radon entering the home through tap water is a very small source of radon in indoor air. For additional information, call 1-800- RADON95 or call EPA's Radon Hotline, 1-800-SOS-RADON.
Facts About Sodium
Sodium in water contributes only a small fraction of a person's overall intake (less than 10%). MWRA tests for sodium monthly and the highest level found was 33.9 mg/L (about 7 mg per glass).
LEAD IN TAP WATER
What is being done to reduce lead in tap water? MWRA has been taking steps to make its water less corrosive, thereby reducing the leaching of lead into drinking water. In 1996, MWRA began operating a new facility in Marlborough where sodium carbonate and carbon dioxide are added to adjust the water's pH and buffering capacity. This change has made the water less likely to leach lead from the pipes. Lead levels found in sample tests of tap water have dropped significantly since this treatment change. Also, local water departments are working to decrease lead corrosion by replacing existing lead service lines.
Each year, all MWRA communities must test tap water in a sample of homes that are likely to have high lead levels. These are usually homes with lead service lines or lead solder. Under the Lead and Copper Rule, if more than 10% of tap water samples exceed the action level of 15 parts per billion (ppb), water systems must take additional steps, including changes to treatment. Since 1996, lead levels have declined dramatically, finally getting below the Action Level in 2002. However, lead levels exceeded the Action Level in 2003. Note that not enough samples were collected. (See page 6 and the insert for more information.) A round of testing with the correct number of samples was conducted in March 2004. Preliminary results of this testing indicate that the MWRA system will be below the lead action level.
Important Information from EPA about Lead
Infants and young children are typically more vulnerable to lead in drinking water than the general population. It is possible that lead levels in your home may be higher than at other homes in the community as a result of materials used in your home's plumbing. Infants and children who drink water containing lead in excess of the action level could experience delays in their physical or mental development. Children could show slight deficits in attention span and learning abilities. Adults who drink this water over many years could develop kidney problems or high blood pressure. If you are concerned about elevated lead levels in your home's water, you may wish to have your water tested and flush your tap until after it is cold before using tap water.
Important Information from EPA and DEP about Contaminants in Bottled Water and Tap Water
Drinking water, including bottled water, may reasonably be expected to contain at least small amounts of some contaminants. The presence of contaminants does not necessarily indicate that water poses a health risk. More information about contaminants and potential health effects can be obtained by calling EPA's Safe Drinking Water Hotline (1-800-426-4791) or your local water supplier. In order to ensure that tap water is safe to drink, Massachusetts DEP and EPA prescribe regulations that limit the amount of certain contaminants in water provided by public water systems. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health regulations establish limits for contaminants in bottled water which must provide the same protection for public health.
What Should I Do about Lead in Tap Water?
IMPORTANT INFORMATION FROM EPA AND DEP
Drinking Water and People with Weakened Immune Systems
Some people may be more vulnerable to contaminants in drinking water than the general population. Immuno-compromised persons such as persons with cancer undergoing chemotherapy, persons who have undergone organ transplants, people with HIV/AIDS or other immune system disorders, some elderly, and infants can be particularly at risk from infections. These people should seek advice about drinking water from their health care providers. EPA/CDC guidelines on appropriate means to lessen the risk of infection by Cryptosporidium and other microbial contaminants are available from the Safe Drinking Water Hotline (1-800-426-4791).
Wasting water can add up quickly. On average, a family of four uses 90,000 gallons of water each year: each person uses about 60 gallons of water each day. Consumers are discovering that more efficient water use can reduce the impact on the water supply and their wallets. Here are some ways to make your home and your habits more water efficient.
Outdoor Water Savings Tips
Summer is an especially important time to save water. Water consumption can increase up to 50% in the summer months due to outdoor water use.
Tips to Save Water Outdoors
The Inch Rule
Most lawns, shrubs, vegetables, and flowers need just one inch of water per week. If there has been an inch of rainfall during the week, you don't need to water at all. Overwatering can actually weaken your lawn by encouraging shallow roots that are less tolerant of dry periods and more likely to be damaged by insects.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS. Your comments on all of our reports help us improve them. We have continued to keep costs down on this report. Each copy costs only 31 cents to print and mail. Give us a call, send a letter or e-mail, and let us know what you think.
Massachusetts Water Resources Authority, Charlestown Navy Yard, 100 First Avenue, Boston, MA 02129 617-242-6000, http://www.mwra.com Email Joshua Das, Project Manager, Public Health: firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com
A LARGE PRINT VERSION OF THIS REPORT IS AVAILABLE. PLEASE CALL US AT 617-242-5323 FOR A COPY