Engineer Says Filtration Test Shows Successful Removal of Manganese from Water Housatonic | South Berkshires

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Long Pond in Great Barrington is the water source provided by Housatonic Water Works Co. It is rich in natural manganese, which changes the shades of the water from yellow to brown. Testing a new filtration system to remove the mineral appears to be successful so far.

GREAT BARRINGTON — An engineer leading testing of a new filtration system to remove manganese that has turned Housatonic’s drinking water from yellow to brown says it’s doing the trick so far.

In a public presentation via Zoom on Tuesday hosted by Housatonic Water Works Co., Robert Ferrari, president of Northeast Water Solutions, said that with one exception, every test run with the filter removed manganese from water to undetectable levels. or almost undetectable.

The first leg of the pilot project – which ran from September 14 to 28 – tests the use of a filtration system that uses greensand, a mineral that can extract manganese as well as a host of contaminants.

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Ferrari said it measured more manganese from the Long Pond water source than was historically present in September, considered the “last part of peak season” for discoloration.

The aqueduct will need to perform more testing throughout the year, as required by its regulator, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.

If the pilot is successful over the seasons, the DEP will decide whether to approve the company installing a permanent greensand system at a cost of up to $2 million.

Water discoloration appears to have worsened in recent years, outraged residents and prompting these and other measures, as well as closer monitoring by the DEP.

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There were also concerns about a spike in haloacetic acids last year due to record rainfall. These are cancer-linked disinfectant byproducts which Ferrari says “are at the minimum possible level based on Long Pond being the water supply.”

People are at a much higher risk of illness from too little chlorine added to water than by-products, Ferrari added, and said the aqueduct pilot also assesses how those by-products get form in order to reduce them.

“It’s an ongoing effort,” he said, noting that “it’s being done in full cooperation and transparency with Mass DEP.”

He indicated that a study on this subject would be submitted to the DEP in about two and a half months. It is necessary under a consent order between the waterworks and DEP to maintain low levels of these by-products.

Ferrari’s presentation is available on the aqueduct website.

Additionally, in response to a resident’s question about the fire output from Housatonic hydrants — long a concern of firefighters — aqueduct co-owner and treasurer James Mercer said the company wanted to install a 500,000 gallon reservoir in the heart of Housatonic Village to store additional water.

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