Source: https://www.heraldnews.com, July 19, 2019
By: Jeffrey D. Wagner
The district’s four-year fight to stop manganese contamination in the Macomber Primary School drinking water supply might be coming to an end.
Superintendent Gary Reese said $50,000 was approved at a recent School Committee meeting to contract with a company to install a new system. He said Facilities Director Michael Duarte would develop a schedule with the company.
The plan is to turn the taps back on by the start of the school year, saving the school money from bottled water purchases, according to Reese.
The superintendent said the district has been in “close communication” with the state Department of Environmental Protection to keep it updated on efforts to handle the problem. The proposal received DEP approval in June.
“We appreciate their patience and are pleased that we have been able to contract with a company that has designed a plan to fix the issue,” Reese said. “Once installed, the system is intended to resolve the manganese concerns and the water should be safe to drink. It is difficult for us to project the long-term savings at this time, but more importantly, we will be in compliance with DEP regulations and the water will be safe for our children, families and staff.”
For three years, district leaders contended that a faulty filtration system was to blame. Last fall, the superintendent said the district was considering legal measures if the issue was not resolved in timely fashion.
According to a 2016 letter on the school website, the maximum contaminant level for manganese – the highest level of a contaminant allowed in drinking water – is 0.05 milligrams per liter.
After the water system was installed at Macomber in 2015, the water was initially found to be within appropriate levels but then spiked to 0.53 milligrams per liter, the letter said.
According to EPA reports, high exposure to manganese has been associated with toxicity to the nervous system, producing a syndrome that resembles Parkinsonism. Young children are more susceptible to issues connected to manganese.
Macomber educates children in pre-kindergarten through second grade.