Water issues won’t affect health, officials say

by LISA CAPOBIANCO

STAFF WRITER

Despite the hardness they found in Plainville’s water, public health officials assured residents that their health would not be affected by it.

Last Thursday, a public information session brought concerned residents to the Middle School of Plainville auditorium to learn more about the results of a recent water analysis conducted by the Department of Public Health and the Plainville Southington Health District. In April, they took water samples in 32 locations throughout the town, including homes and commercial and municipal locations.

The water analysis comes after there were a number of complaints about the quality of the water supplied by Valley Water.

After receiving over 100 complaints from residents, the DPH, along with town officials and staff, agreed that additional testing of the town’s water was needed.

“We wanted to make sure we could fully understand what was happening,” said Lori Mathieu, the public health section chief of DPH.

The several-month process involved taking water samples from homeowners who filed complaints as well as those who did not. The State Laboratory in Rocky Hill analyzed all 32 samples looking for chemicals that would cause a bitter taste.

“For what we sampled for, the water was in compliance with state and federal regulations,” said DPH Supervising Sanitary Engineer Tom Chyra.

What the DPH did conclude, however, is that the town’s water is “very hard.”

Chyra added that hard water is not unique in Plainville.

“Hardness can be found everywhere across the state, across the country,” said Chyra.

In response to complaints from residents, Valley Water representatives said they made a handful of customer service improvements, such as online and daily phone surveys, and quarterly customer service training.

“The feedback we received from our customers is heard,” said Nick LaChance of Valley Water.

Looking ahead, Valley Water said it will consider all options to address hardness in Plainville’s water. This process is expected to have a six-month time frame.

“We’re going to look at all the alternatives,” Valley Water President Donald Vaughan told residents.

“It ruins your appliances. Even filters cost a great deal of money. There’s water that you can’t even drink out of your own faucet,” said Plainville resident Keith Merwin, addressing Valley Water. “It’s just baffling to me to stop and think that we’ve known it for 30 years. Weren’t there things you could have done along the way?”

No matter what the options are, said town and health officials, they will come with a cost.

“Any of the operational costs, any of the capital costs for running those systems are gong to be paid for by the customers,” said Lee.

Lee said the issue has come a long way in recent months.

“The water company is responding. I think they’re willing to change,” said Lee. “I hope we do come up with something that’s cost effective and effective in terms of water quality.”