DPW Updates Selectmen on Water Quality

By Meredith McCulloch

water-system-updateDirector of Public Works David Manugian reported to the Selectmen on November 21 on Bedford’s water system, including the most recent testing results.

Unlike neighboring communities, Bedford has not needed to restrict water use in recent years. The town draws on the MWRA (Massachusetts Water Resources Authority) for most of its water. Bedford’s water is 85 percent from the MWRA, originating in the Quabbin Reservoir. The other 15 percent comes from three town-owned wells in the Shawsheen well field.

The quality of the water is monitored regularly. Water is tested daily by the MWRA and locally by the Town. Testing checks for the presence of lead and various bacteria, including coliform bacteria, and monitors fluoride levels. Coliform itself is not dangerous, but can indicate the presence of other bacteria such as E.coli, that can be dangerous.  Bedford’s Public Works Department tests water at several local locations looking for coliform in the water. The count of coliform bacteria had been declining due to regular flushing of the pipes.

Flushing is done on a regular basis to reduce the amount of coliforms in the water. Lining the pipes will reduce the problem. Seventy-five percent of the pipes have been done and the six-year capital plan calls for ongoing work on the project.

Manugian described the scope of Bedford’s water system, which includes 92 miles of water mains and over 800 fire hydrants. There is no lead in the town system, but older feeder pipes from the main into individual homes may pose a risk. About 75 percent of the water mains have been lined. The six-year capital plan provides for additional pipe lining, though no date was given for expected completion.

Selectman Mark Siegenthaler asked whether there might be any chance that, after being closed for some time, the wells in the Hartwell and Crosby Drive areas might be usable again.

Cathy Cordes of Jeffrey Circle asked where the water is tested. Manugian said at schools, hospitals,  where water is more stagnant. Cordes went on to express concern about the level of bacteria in homes like hers that are at the end of the water line.

Click here to view the slides for the presentation. For the most recent water quality report, click this link

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