Hyannis Water Gets High Health Marks

The Hyannis water system provides high-quality water, according to information the Hyannis Water Board heard at its meeting Tuesday.

Steve Cohen, senior project engineer with the Environmental Partners Group, told the board that no public health threats exist in the system’s water.

Mr. Cohen gave a preliminary report Tuesday on a water quality study that the environmental firm is conducting for the board.

To the extent there are issues with the system’s water, he said they are cosmetic rather than health-related.

Mr. Cohen was speaking of the discoloration of some of the system’s water, a discoloration resulting from the presence of iron and manganese.

“When you see it, you don’t want it,” he said. “There are steps you can take to deal with it.”

Those steps include improved chemical treatment of the water and the replacement of cast-iron distribution pipes in the system.

Deborah Krau, chairman of the water board, said the board already has taken steps to deal with the discoloration, such as pumping more of the system’s water from the Maher wellfield, which provides clearer source water, and less water from wells such as near Straightway, which has a higher iron content.

The preliminary report also gave rise to a discussion to steps that the board could take to protect the system’s water.

The board wants to ask Barnstable County either to move its fire training facility, which is off Mary Dunn Road in Barnstable Village, to another site, or to make adjustments in how the facility is operated.

Flares and firefighting foams are among the materials at the site that pose a danger to groundwater flow tapped by Hyannis system wells, according to board members.

“It’s a huge, huge liability for us,” water board member Peter Cross said.

The board also plans to investigate whether Community Preservation Act funds could be made available to purchase properties with septic systems within 400 feet of system wells.

The board would like to obtain the right of first refusal on those properties if the owners wish to sell.

Under the concept, the buildings on the properties would be taken down and their septic systems removed.

Ms. Krau said another issue of concern is a business, Ferreira’s Recycling, that operates at 85 Old Yarmouth Road.

The business is within 750 feet of the system’s Maher wellfield.

An explosion occurred and a fire broke out at the facility last month.

A torch was being used by a contractor to cut up a truck.

Ms. Krau said the town’s legal department is looking into whether the business is violating its license with the town.

Mr. Cohen said a further step to protect the Maher wellfield would be to extend the town’s sewer system into the area around the wellfield.

The board also wants to explore whether the town will change its zoning concerning the storage of commercial fertilizers as another step to protect the water supply.

Mr. Cohen said he could provide the board with zoning language to cover such a change.

The board also wants to engage in a public education campaign to ask the owners of residential and commercial properties with septic systems in areas above groundwater flows tapped by the Hyannis system wells to pump those septic tanks more frequently.

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