Water Contaminant Remains Elevated

The Milford Water Company recently disclosed that levels of a specific water contaminant remain high, based on testing at several sites in Milford.

UPDATED: The story has been adjusted as of 10:30 a.m. Wednesday to include information from a phone interview with David Condrey, the manager of Milford Water Company.


Complaints and requests for individual home testing are flowing into Milford Water Company, as residents learn that a round of recent testing has revealed, once again, elevated levels of a contaminant.

The Water Company posted test results from the Aug. 25 samples on its website. In all six spots, the results indicate the levels of the contaminant Total Trihalomethanes (TTHMs) are above the maximum allowed for drinking water, and higher than the most recent quarterly average.

The next round of town-wide testing is scheduled for Thursday.

TTHMs are produced when drinking water is disinfected. They form when disinfectants, such as chlorine, combine with leaves, bird waste, and other organic materials that are found in surface waters.

According to the state Department of Environmental Protection, which oversees drinking water supplies, the amount of contaminant allowed for drinking water is 80 parts per billion (ppb).

In Milford, levels in samples taken at six locations ranged from a low of 87 ppb, on Main Street, to 122.5 ppb, at a site on Countryside Drive, according to the report on the Water Company's site. Samples taken on Purchase Street, Beaver Street and South Main Street were all above 100 ppb.

The last quarterly report on testing, in July, showed a town-wide average of

David Condrey, the manager of the private utility company, acknowledged through a statement on the Water Company site that the contaminant levels will likely remain high through the third quarter, until steps can be taken to reduce the natural materials entering the water supply.

On Wednesday, Condrey said the private utility will test water quality at individual homes, but the focus is "on fixing the problem for everyone in town."

The long-term solution to ridding the water supply of elevated TTHMs is the new water treatment plant, which is not scheduled to be finished until 2013.

In email correspondence sent to about the elevated levels, Condrey has said the Water Company board voted last week to allow people who may have specific health issues to purchase faucet- and shower-mounted filters, and submit the receipts to the company for reimbursement.

About a dozen families have already done so, he said Wednesday.

By the end of October, the company hopes to have the first unit of a installed at its Dilla Street site. This is a filter that includes a layer of carbon, which has worked well in a community in Maine, according to DEP officials, who suggested it to local Water Company authorities as an interim solution.

Last week, the DEP approved the Water Company's plans to install two of the "carbon sandwich" filters. The first should be activated by the end of October, said Edmund Coletta, a spokesman for the DEP.

"That should significantly bring those down," Coletta said, referring to the TTHM readings.

It is common for the contaminant levels to rise in August, he said, because the water temperature is warmer, and more natural materials are in the surface waters.

On its site, the Water Company has posted a Q and A, with assistance from the state, that explains the nature of the contamination, and offers some temporary steps that can be taken by customers to reduce their exposure to TTHMs.

Among the suggestions: ventilate the bathroom when bathing or showering; operate room exhaust fans or ventilate room (open window) when boiling water, washing with hot water or running the dishwasher and reduce the length of showers and baths.

Jennifer September 21, 2011 at 01:32 AM
and when do they plan on installing my "free" whole house filter? or that only for the "good customers"?
Lisa Vasile September 21, 2011 at 01:34 AM
Ventilate a room when boiling water, running hot water or taking showers? It is heading toward winter and it's expensive enough to heat our houses. Go to my kitchen to brush my teeth? My level came in at 102.8 (20.8 above the maximum contaminant). There are few other companies or professions that would allow a known problem of health concern for so long w/o a change being made or people losing jobs.
Katie Lenza Dexter September 21, 2011 at 02:02 AM
Ginger September 21, 2011 at 02:26 AM
I don't get it? How are they allowed to get away with this.we are paying for a product you cannot use! That would be like the supermarket giving you rotten food, you pay for it, even though you can't use it. They would be shut down! At what point does the state or government intervene and help provide us with water that is not a health risk???
Michelle Garber September 21, 2011 at 12:03 PM
They are offering to allow people to purchase faucet- and shower-mounted filters and get reimbursed (I am guessing they mean Brita or Pur, that you can buy at Target or WalMart), but my understanding is those don't get rid of TTHMs. Thanks for putting together the meeting at the Youth Center, we cannot continue to let them get away with this!!
southpaw September 21, 2011 at 12:42 PM
and better yet - we will be the ones paying yet another hike in fees to pay for the 'fix'!!
Mary MacDonald (Editor) September 21, 2011 at 12:45 PM
I've added a link in the story to the meeting next week, which has been posted on our Events listings....
Chip September 21, 2011 at 12:54 PM
I never claimed to be a smart guy, but I'm gleaning from the comments here that the Brita "biggest loser" looking pitcher thing I've been using to filter drinking water (and my family and I drink a TON of it) has been ineffective as far as purifying the water, so I've been ingesting the TTHMs anyways?
Deanna Runeman September 21, 2011 at 01:02 PM
What kind of system are you purchasing? Are you having it professionally installed? Does it filter out TTHMs?
Colleen September 21, 2011 at 01:32 PM
This is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard! Something NEEDS To be done. I wonder if an environmental attorney would be helpful in getting the water company to pay for home filtration systems in our homes. Saying that this issue will be fixed in 2 years is absolutely INSANE! LEts all expose our children to 2 more years of carciogenic material in their baths and drinking water. We spent $800 on a filtration system for our kitchen 8 months ago as we had lost all confidence in the water company's ability to provide us with safe water. Tomorrow we are spending an additional $1000+ to have a whole house system put in. Its ridiculous that we have no other option other than to pay for our own home systems. PLease join us on Thursday Sept 29th 7:30pm at the Milford Youth Center for a informational meeting with a water expert who I have been in contact with. He will be bringing his own research on the Milford water and discussing people's concerns and discussing ways in which you can make your home and water safer. Please spread the word!
Colleen September 21, 2011 at 01:37 PM
Chip- You are correct. From what I have discussed with this water expert a Brita Filter does NOT remove the TTHM's from the water. In fact some very expensive systems that you can installed do not also. You have to be veery careful in what type of system you put in to be sure it is removing the TTHM's. This is obvisouly not my expertise but it is what I have discussed with this man. He is a PHENOMENAL wealth of information and his passion is water! He will answer everyone's questions next Thur. And to Deanna... yes we had a professional water filtration company install a filter for our drinking water and now with hearing that it will be 2 more years before the new plant will be up and running we are opting to have a whole house filter put in so we can bath/shower/wash our dishes etc without worrying about breathing the fumes. To me this is INSANE that we have gotten to this point but I feel I have no other options. The water company has decided that purchasing a Brita filter for your kitchen is sufficient and for the health of my children this is not acceptable. Please pass the word so people will come on the 29th.
Carolyn Kahn September 21, 2011 at 02:14 PM
Enough is enough. Because of their gross incompetance and disregard for our health, we have all been exposed to potentially harmful materials for OVER 1 YEAR and they are now saying it will be another 2 YEARS before this is fixed. Someone should be at worst fired and at best, incarcerated for public health endangerment. I was at the 8/4 meeting and will be at the one on 9/29
UglyHat September 21, 2011 at 03:07 PM
Re: Milford Water Citizen's Meeting Will Gov Patrick or Lt Gov Murray be there? How about Attorney Gen Coakley or Rep Fernandes? What about the Board of Selectmen, Board of Health, or the Legal Department? Have any of these people been invited? The people of Milford shouldn’t have to hire environmental specialists and attorneys privately. While I would want to buy a filter to protect my family too, I’m afraid that if enough people have the resources to buy their own solution, the less fortunate will continue to suffer. And they will likely suffer longer because the roar of the crowd will soften as more systems are implemented. And household systems don’t address the water being used in schools, restaurants and other facilities. Many of the people I’ve listed above are attorneys or have backgrounds in the legal profession. They should be able to quickly determine if laws have been broken and what the actionable consequences are. They should also be able to consult the local boards and residents on the viability of a take-over. Perhaps Obama has some stimulus money the town could use to build a town-owned water treatment facility. Obviously this would take time as well but they’re talking about 2 years now. At least this would put the Water Co. in the hands of the people instead of being privately held. At the very least (by inviting them) you will gain an understanding of which elected and appointed officials care about you and your families.
Beth Rayner-Zyskowski September 21, 2011 at 06:26 PM
Unacceptable. I don't know whether I am more upset that I'm being exposed to these carcinogens or that I have been unknowingly giving this water to my cats to drink (NEVER AGAIN). Let's every single person who posted a comment call or email all of the Milford Selectmen AND John Fernandes and make sure they plan to attend this meeting.
Jim Rizoli September 21, 2011 at 09:47 PM
Jim Rizoli CCFIILE.COM You think you got problems... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2KV0FaPAAuA
Bill Dillon September 21, 2011 at 10:59 PM
I don't read the "Patch" every day,but I tell you it sure is a good point of info. for the voter in the town of Milford. i am the first one to say I don't know much about the so called "TTHM's in our water supply, but I am old enought to be able to say that I have lived in this town for a very long time and our water supply has in the past been AA#--and now they tell me that we should have a "whole house filter system" to get rid of the contaminat in our water supply. Come on people ,get to work and do your job and lets not be ridiculous.,and put this "health risk" out of our town. Is this another way for the state and or the water CO..to hit the tax payer with another $200 on our tax bills so we can have a state of the art treatment plant ,and then we may be able to get rid of the so called "TTHN's" in our water supply.I have said it before and I will say it again, it may be time for the town or tax payers to buy the water CO and run it in correct way,and hire people that know how to run a water Co in todays age,and if they don't then show them the door. Is our next move is that we will be back to standing in long lines for bottled water as we have done in the past.Like I said before,come on folks---if the heat is to hot ---then get out of the kitchen,but at least do your jobs---find the problem--don't hit the tax payer another $100 for a job you can't do.and should have done a long time before now.
gladtograd September 22, 2011 at 12:11 AM
This is so wrong on so many levels! An open window is not a solution...it doesn't stop the water that inadvertently gets swallowed when brushing, water hitting your body in shower/bath. I may not be consistent in reading newspapers/mail everyday but how long has this been going on and why haven't I gotten a letter with these warnings or seen a flashing billboard about the elevated levels? My 3 and 2 year old have been bathing/playing in the water all summer long. What about laundry? I thought that after the last incident with the Milford Water when they were handing out cases of water that the EPA was monitoring all of the levels? If so what levels are they seeing that are saying the levels are ok? I have my water test tomorrow and plan on attending the citizens meeting to get these answers and many more that I will have by then. Thank you to those Milford citizens who brought this to everybody's attention. Outrageous!
Jennifer September 22, 2011 at 12:33 AM
https://www.facebook.com/StandUptoMilfordWaterCompany Make sure you check us out, and LETS ALL BAND TOGETHER!!!
Colleen September 22, 2011 at 01:14 AM
The letters have been coming about every 3 months for at least a year now. They have been in that Milford water Company folded paper that I am sure many just throw away. :( I have been in touch with the DEP who claims that "Milford's water issue is a top priority". The woman at the DEP told me they are monitoring our levels once every three months where as they used to only test once every 2 years. When Milford handed out the water at the high school, that was due to ecoli and given the high amount of bacteria you could not use the water. The Milford Water Company continues to send the information out that they are not in compliance with EPA standards for levels of TTHM's as they have not been able to find a way to fix the problem. The meeting on Sept 29th is purely an informational meeting with a water expert who has agreed to come and talk about the water and answer people's questions. He is in NO way connected to the Milford Water company. THere will also be a wholesale representative from a local plumbing company on hand to discuss water filtration systems at a reasonable cost. He is a resident of Milford and greatly concerned about the water for his family so he wants to offer systems to families at wholesale cost if they would like to purchase them. I hope this helps. We simply want people to be aware of this huge problem and shed some light on the issues at hand. We found this water expert and thought he would be perfect to talk to people.
Mary MacDonald (Editor) September 22, 2011 at 01:28 AM
Colleen, to piggy-back on your response, at the DEP meeting with Selectmen, one of the audience members pointed out that the water bills go to the customers, who may not be the tenants in rented houses, but the landlords. I know in my town (Upton) I've never seen a water bill because I"m renting. So, many people in Milford may not be seeing the mailed notices.
Colleen September 22, 2011 at 01:52 AM
Yes so true Mary. And another odd thing is that my in laws who live on the other side of town did not receive all the notices that we did. So I wonder how many people did not receive all the letters.
Myd Nevins September 22, 2011 at 05:25 AM
As a renter in Milford, I haven't seen any letters or notices. The only way I've even gotten info about all this consistantly has been through the Patch.
gladtograd September 22, 2011 at 01:32 PM
And what is considered a specific health issue? Future potential illness not considered?
Mary MacDonald (Editor) September 22, 2011 at 04:34 PM
The Water Co. is referring there to people who have existing health problems, women who are pregnant, etc...
Jennifer September 23, 2011 at 11:43 AM
People who should be concerned: Women of child bearing age, children, the elderly, and anyone with a health problem.
Carolyn Kahn September 23, 2011 at 07:43 PM
I won't even let my cats drink the water anymore. They get the same bottled water my husband & I do. Funny thing is even though we have been using less water our bill is higher...


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