(The following information in this article submitted for on-line usage is courtesy of a story that was featured in The Berkshire Edge)

If you live in the village of Housatonic, Massachusetts (present company included) you might have noticed a discoloration of your tap water in the kitchen and bathroom. This is the main reason why residents should not drink any of this H-2-O and if you need to wash your hands, dishes, shower, shave et al keep your usage to a bare minimum as a safety precaution.

According to a recent study that took place on October 29th, 900 customers of Housatonic Water Works have discovered this problem is not caused by iron that was leaching into the water supply by pipes as previously thought. A higher than normal level of manganese is the culprit as it filtered into the system from The Long Pond Reservoir which supplies the main source of water throughout the village.

Angry residents chimed in on this not so appetizing topic as The Housatonic Water Works held a public information meeting via Zoom this past Thursday evening. You can access the link to this session by going here. Residents can also view a recent water and corrosion assessment by clicking here.

Housatonic Water Works Treasurer Jim Mercer commented on the concerns of residents as Dr. Richard Gullick from Leominster, Massachusetts based Water Compliance Solutions gave his input during this past Thursday's forum:

"We believe that we are now on the right path toward selecting and implementing an effective solution and potential manganese removal systems are being evaluated as manganese is a naturally occuring mineral and chemical agent as the levels were high enough to discolor the water but low enough that at not time did it pose a health risk"

To learn more about manganese in drinking water and the necessary precautions you need to stay safe, residents can read more about this topic by access this fact sheet.

The Department of Environmental Protection reiterated:

"Manganese is necessary for normal immune system, function, digestion and bone strength. At elevated levels, manganese could produce neurological effects with some variation in sensitivity between individuals"

The company added an investigation was warranted as to why data from individual locations provided by HWW also shows high lead (or copper) results leading to action-level exceedances.The data is not limited to a single household location.

Great Barrington Town Manager Mark Pruhenski has been in contact with Brian Harrington as he stated the DEP spokesman was "reluctant to comment at this point because their staff had not had ample time to review the engineering report".

Harrington recently addressed the issue at a previous Select Board meeting back in August as he stated the Bay State is primarily concerned with water quality and rates of private water companies, but not with so-called "esthetic" issues which include the brown discoloration of water from the tap that has elicited negative responses and upset customers for a number of years.

State officials have implemented a series of actions to rectify this ongoing problem as the rolly water manifests itself after water mains are flushed and the recent warm temperatures resulted in higher levels of chlorine coming out of Long Pond Reservoir which caused the additional discoloration. Local firefighters stressed this problem in 55 village hydrants has caused an imbalance of pressure in fighting fires which could result in a catastrophic loss of life.

Residents have been vocal about this matter in Town Hall meetings and on social media as they complained about inadequate communication from Housatonic Water Works 17 miles of water mains as water service has been provided courtesy of The Town of Great Barrington's Fire District which also functions as the municipal water department.

Two engineering firms have recently conducted a study and appraisal of the troubled water system in Housatonic which also serves a portion of Stockbridge and West Stockbridge. Final results are expected in the next few months and if there are no improvements, the Town is considering a purchase of HWW which will merge with the village's fire district or they could acquire the company with an option that resembles eminent domain. We will keep you posted on the latest developments.

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