By K.B. Sherman, Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – Robert Tozeski, Shrewsbury’s water and sewer superintendent, met with the Board of Selectmen at its Aug. 9 meeting. He reported that, following water restrictions adopted in July, the town’s water usage is down, with the past week’s usage about 3.7 million gallons per day, down from approximately 5 million gallons per day. That was the good news, he noted. The bad news was residents’ complaints about the water being delivered to homes and businesses.
Tozeski reported that improvements to the town’s water system are ongoing, as are repairs to the system as breakages occur. Water main contracts have been awarded. The severe drought, however, has water levels down approximately 8.2 inches in central Mass. Through the continuing rain deficit, town wells are nonetheless in pretty good shape, he said.
On the other hand, though, the area is not getting much “recharge action.” The drought and lower water level aggravates the manganese level which is rising to be a greater part of water pollution.
“This threatens children and seniors the most,” he reported.
The water system is not only being modified through the addition of a new water treatment plant (to be completed in 2018), but through repairing breaks, using replacement wells, and the opening and closing of valves which just stirs up more mineral-containing sediment. Town residents have been complaining of tap water that is clouded by sediment.
While the pending water treatment plant should help by 2018, it is causing complaints from residents now. The town is looking at such technology as “ice pigging” – a pipeline cleaning technology which cleans the inside of pipes using an ice slurry – to help flush the water lines of sediment and other contamination.
“Each attempt to help residents, unfortunately, stirs things up and makes people unhappy. I’m not making any friends in town, I can tell you that,” said Tozeski. “However, at the end we will have a great water filtration system. It’s just tough to get to that point.”
Selectman Moira Miller complimented Tozeski, saying he does “a terrific job.” She also noted the problem of notifying affected residents every time the water system was being worked on. She suggested a public service announcement on cable TV to alert residents Tozeski agreed that better communication to residents was needed.
“We’re in a tough summer,” he stated.
Selectman Maurice DePalo agreed that the situation is “extremely disruptive.” He stated that using Code Red to notify people was perhaps not the best plan. He concluded that there would be no solution at this meeting, but that Tozeski was handling this “with a lot of sensitivity.”