By K.B. Sherman, Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – Shrewsbury's water system is in good shape but faces expansion and growth problems in the near future. That was the conclusion of the Shrewsbury Board of Selectmen as the members listened to a report from Robert Tozeski and Jeff Howland, P.E., at the board's Aug. ?12 meeting. Tozeski is superintendent of water and sewer, while Howland is the town engineer.
“Water restrictions have been a problem for economic development in town,” said Town Manager Daniel Morgado. “In fact, in recent years the only category of user that has shrunk is commercial users, down about 10 percent. While this may be in part the result of the general economic downturn since 2008, the fact remains.
Another issue is imposition of manganese standards. Manganese is found in water, usually bound-up with atoms of iron. In small doses it is essential to health. In larger doses, however, it acts as an impurity and has been suggested by some studies as linked to intellectual impairment in children. As a result, its presence is limited to 0.3 parts per million in drinking water. Shrewsbury currently controls this with chemical additives to the drinking water but as standards are ever tightened by the state and federal government, the town may have to create a green sand filtering device, at a cost of $12 million – $13 million plus operating and maintenance expenses.
The report states that the town's water infrastructure is in good shape and annual work requires just $1.5 million to 2 million. Water rates from 2012 to 2014 increased just $0.30 per thousand, with all categories except commercial showing modest increased use. Shrewsbury currently uses approximately 440,000 gallons per day.
In summary, the water system is in good shape and enjoys moderate use per capacity. Water rates have traditionally been favorable. However, ever more severe regulations imposed by state and federal environmental agencies and groups are increasingly problematic. In the near future, system expansion will be a problem, especially as relates to economic development.