The DEP ordered Well #3 shut down immediately after it heard about the incident, which was done on Feb. 7, 2013, and asked that water samples be collected from the well. Testing indicated that the distribution samples were free of coliform, a kind of bacteria that indicates potential contamination. The raw water was tested positive for coliform, which is acceptable, but was negative for E. coli, which is a potentially dangerous form of bacteria. The well will be reopened as soon as DEP gives approval after reviewing the town’s response to the consent orders, which have been submitted.
Subsequent to a DEP inspection of the well, the town was instructed to have the interior of the well pump house professionally cleaned, which was done on Feb. 12.
“We have complied thus far with all the stipulations of the consent order and will continue to do so as required to avoid additional fines and to bring the water department back into compliance,” said Eagan. The consent order also calls for the development of an Emergency Response Plan and Report, as well as a Standard Operating Procedures Manual for the water department. In addition, by May 1, a filing of the remedial actions taken by the town must be sent to the DEP.
If the town does comply as required, the DEP will suspend $10,000 of the fine, therefore leaving $15,875 to be paid via a payment plan that spans 300 days.
To help address the recent issues within the water department, including the recently reported overexpenditure of nearly $45,000 for the building of the addition at the 401 Central Street location, selectmen made a motion at their March 25 meeting to change the board of water commissioners from being elected officials to appointed officers. While additional approvals remain to ensure this change, the selectmen were hopeful to place an article on the town warrant to be voted on to make this happen.