By Amelia Tarallo
Hometown Weekly Staff
Among the ongoing problems in the world, including a pandemic, no one in Dover expected to see a water crisis arise as a result of escherichia coli bacteria (E. coli). Yet, residents and businesses that receive water from Colonial Water wells located on Draper Road, Francis Street, and Knollwood Drive are finding themselves boiling water, relying on water bottles, and purchasing water to use for normal day-to-day tasks. In what was initially presented as a temporary and fixable issue, is now in its fourth week.
A statement released on June 18 by Colonial Water Company explains that a routine sample taken from Well A at the Francis Street station had a presence of one colony of total coliform. After repeated testing, the water company chlorinated and flushed Well A, followed by collecting additional samples.
On June 11, Colonial Water Company reported the presence of E. coli within the water distribution system to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protections (Mass DEP), triggering a boil water order for Dover customers, and began contacting affected residents. It should be noted that a number of customers have alerted town officials and Colonial Water Company that they were not notified until the town issued the boil water order on their website. On June 18, Colonial Water Company began distributing bottled water to customers from the town garage and has continued to do so since then.
Since discovering the presence of the E. coli bacteria, Dover town departments have been working with Colonial Water Company and the Mass DEP to ensure residents remain safe. The Board of Selectmen have been holding weekly meetings and the Board of Health Water Resource Committee discussed the ongoing issue during their regularly scheduled meeting on June 17. "One of the things that has, just this morning, arisen is that … this has now moved to a federal level, a so-called level two. And that's directly related to the fact that this is two occurrences of the same problem in a 12-month period. The federal government is now involved. The DEP now will require a so-called level two response," announced Gerald Clarke of the Dover Board of Health during the Water Resource Committee Meeting. Last summer, E. coli was detected in the water system.
Colonial Water Company has been instructed by the DEP to continue testing the wells, and continue to treat the wells by chlorination, while residents continue to live under the boil water order until this issue can be solved. While it was hoped that chlorination of the well and distribution system would solve the issue, samples taken from Well A at Francis Station on Sunday, June 29, showed a presence of coliform. While a coliform does not confirm the presence of E. coli, it does reveal that there is bacterial contamination in the water.
A statement released by Colonial Water Company noted the company's efforts to solve the ongoing E. coli issue. "CWC understands this unfortunate event has caused inconveniences to its customers in Dover. The Company would like to extend its gratitude for their patience. CWC is utilizing all of its resources to support its field operators, as well as to ensure clean potable water is made available daily to its customers. CWC continues to work closely with the MASS DEP to resolve this issue," the statement says. "Further, CWC is working on a permanent disinfection procedure that will need to be permitted and approved by the MASS DEP."
This is an ongoing story that will be continue to be updated as information becomes available.