Whately gets loan for manganese removal from water supply

  • A 500,000-gallon gravity-fed water tank used by the Whately Water Department to deliver water to customers in the town. FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 3/13/2019 6:00:47 PM

WHATELY — The town has secured a 2-percent loan from the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund to finance the required upgrades and improvements to the Water Department’s pumping station on Chestnut Plain Road.

Town Administrator Brian Domina explained the revolving fund is administered by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection’s Clean Water Trust, a state agency that aims to improve water quality throughout the state by providing low-interest loans to municipalities, with joint funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The work entails construction of an addition to the existing structure to house a filtration system to remove iron and manganese from the drinking water supply. Manganese is a black, brittle, metallic element. Domina has previously explained that the manganese level in the town’s water supply has remained consistent, though in 2014 the state lowered its standard for how much of it is acceptable, to 0.30 milligrams per liter. Test results from Whately’s two wells in April and June 2014 registered between 0.34 and 0.35 milligrams, and the town fell out of compliance as a result.

The town has signed Dankris Builders Corp. in Plainville – the only company to submit a bid – for the work.  Dankris would be the project’s general contractor. An engineer at Berkshire Engineering in Lee designed the removal system.

Domina said work is expected to begin in April. He said the contract is for 180 days, though the work probably will not take that long.

Voters at a Dec. 12 special town meeting opted unanimously to borrow $440,000 from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection for the removal system. This amended a July 2016 vote to appropriate $410,000. 

According to the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, manganese is an essential nutrient in small amounts. However, too much of it can lead to nervous system problems and other health issues. Also, studies in children have suggested “extremely high levels of manganese exposure may produce undesirable effects on brain development, including changes in behavior and decreases in the ability to learn and remember.”

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.

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