By Melanie Petrucci, Senior Community Reporter
Shrewsbury – It may be a new year but old concerns over water quality in Shrewsbury still persist. From time to time, the issue is brought forth on social media. However, Town Manager Kevin Mizikar urges the town’s residents to be patient.
“I honestly think that the water treatment plant is probably the most significant investment, and I believe it will be the best investment that the town has made as far as quality of life in probably the last twenty years,” Mizikar stated recently.
Shrewsbury’s new water treatment facility, located at the site of the old plant (which has been demolished,) 45 Main St., recently became fully functional last October. The main purpose was the treatment of manganese which is a groundwater mineral which is the primary cause of the problems.
Mizikar stated that the new plant uses a biological rather than a chemical process. Furthermore, Shrewsbury’s is the largest biological treatment plant west of the Mississippi River, using cutting edge technology that was developed by Suez Water Technologies and Solutions – one of the world’s largest water companies.
“We are growing bacteria that loves to attach itself to manganese, make it bigger and capture it in a natural sand filter,” explained Mizikar.
Switching over to the new water treatment plant was just the beginning of solving the problem. Manganese is no longer being introduced into the system and they are finally at the tipping point in the transition period that was estimated to be roughly a two year process. Mizikar estimates that within a year this will all be resolved.
“Now the chemistry and the biology of the water has been changed a little bit through the new treatment process so you have remaining manganese and other sediment inside the interior of the pipes,” Robert Tozeski, Shrewsbury Water & Sewer Superintendent, explained.
He added that the new biological system doesn’t want to attach itself to the substance already in the pipes. As a result, old sediment is breaking off and dissipating over time and that is what people are seeing coming out of their faucets.
Right now it is basically at zero manganese being introduced into the water system. Manganese has been the primary contributor to the particles found in and discoloration of some water in town. Some people have had it worse than others, for a variety of reasons.
The problem is most prevalent where the main distribution lines are such as the vicinity of North Quinsigamond Avenue and Old Mill and Gulf Street. There are three pressure zones in town so it has to work its way through, all the while being aware of tank and flow levels at the treatment plant.
Flushing of the lines can only be done in the spring and in the fall because during the summer water is at its peak in terms of demand and in the winter water being flushed will freeze.
Tozeski also doesn’t want to disturb the bacteria that they are using to eat away at the sediment and build-up in the pipes.
“Our plan is to, weather permitting, try to get out there mid-March or April if we can and flush as much as we can by May because water restrictions begin in May,” Tozeski noted. “We will need to flush multiple times and the flow will get quicker and better [cleaner] each time.”
“We hear folks and we don’t want them to have to do deal with this,” Mizikar added. “I understand that people are frustrated. We are just in the acclimation period.”
For more information, visit https://shrewsburyma.gov/287/Water-Sewer.