Andover Water District: Trustees learn stagnant water ‘eating bathtub’

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ANDOVER — A Birch Street resident took Andover Water District trustees by surprise at Tuesday night’s annual district meeting when she said town water is dissolving her bathtub.

Elizabeth Bodwell’s comment came after Board of Trustees President Kevin Scott and district Superintendent Lucien Roberge finished explaining that after a total system overhaul, the town now has safe and reliable drinking water.

“The system’s supposed to be so great, but it’s eating up my bathtub and I want to know why it’s doing that,” Bodwell said.

“It’s doing that now?” Scott asked.

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“Yes,” she replied.

“Well, that’s a shocker to me,” Scott said. “They are on a dead-end (water line) and that could be why.”

“And that’s what we’re trying to address — those dead-ends,” Roberge said.

Earlier, Roberge said the district will be installing blow-off hydrants to flush water lines and improve water quality in dead-end lines.

“What ends up happening on a dead-end line is that it becomes older water, and again, it could get stagnant or the quality and residual could start to drop off,” Roberge said.

“That’s why we want to have the ability to flush it. It probably has debris on the bottom of the line that we can’t remove and the more debris that’s there, the more demand on the water.”

Scott said it’s likely that some chemicals used to treat the water could be concentrating in dead-end lines.

“If it’s eating up my flush and my bathtub, it’s going to eat up my throat isn’t it?” Bodwell asked.

Scott said that prior to Roberge’s arrival on Jan. 9, 2009, previous district management didn’t record any of its water treatment dosages.

“The amount of dosage that was going into the system was either low, which would cause pollution problems if the water was too acidic, or it was too high, which would put the pH in the other direction, which could affect your health,” Scott said.

Since then, the district has new equipment, continues to successfully pass required quality control testing, and is updating its electronic system used to monitor and measure water.

Additionally, both Roberge and Scott told Bodwell they will install an in-ground, 2-inch valve to regularly flush the dead-end line on Birch Street.

Bodwell, apparently satisfied with the response, thanked both men.

“We’re hoping that that will correct it,” Roberge added.

In other business, Roberge said the town’s 33 hydrants were OK last winter. Last year, half of them froze and weren’t functioning.

Using some of the remaining money from the district’s $250,000 sale in March of its former reservoir land — Stony Brook on the Upton Road — Roberge said field work will be done to survey the water delivery system.

District treasurer Fred Detheridge said early Wednesday evening that the bulk of the $250,000 was spent buying down the district’s more than $380,000 in debt.

He said they applied $130,000 to the U.S. Department of Agriculture loan for past infrastructure to save more than $150,000 in interest, leaving a remaining balance of $116,000.

Additionally, trustees spent roughly $59,000 to pay off the mortgage on the district’s office building, and another $15,200 owed to the Maine Municipal Bond Bank, which leaves roughly $48,500 from the land sale.

Scott said Tuesday night that trustees have authorized using $15,000 for chemical treatment and chemical injection monitoring equipment, bought new hardware, and have authorized Roberge to contract and bid work for some curb stops and flushing hydrants.

Roberge plans to continue treating the water with caustic soda at 25 percent. His goal, he said, is to eventually get the system under better control so that should it “go astray again, that it’s not going to hurt anybody.”

“When I got here, you guys could have been seriously hurt,” he said. “That’s how bad it was, and it’s not that way today.”

tkarkos@sunjournal.com

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