2007-06-21 / Front Page

Jamestown failed two 2006 water bacteria tests

By Tom Shevlin

Jamestown's total coliform bacteria levels exceeded Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) drinking water standards briefly last year, according to the Jamestown Water Department's annual Consumer Confidence Report.

In July 2006, two of the eleven water samples taken that month tested positive for coliform bacteria. According to EPA standards, only one positive test is permitted. According to the report, which will be included in island ratepayers' next bill, at the time of the positive hits, the treatment plant's chlorine system was operational and functioning properly, however the water temperature, which was approximately eighty degrees, along with new pipe in the distribution system had probably provided an environment for microbial growth.

The report also did not rule out the possibility of isolated sampling conditions. According to Public Works Director Steve Goslee, the positive test samples were taken from bath and kitchen taps at the highway barn and fire station, and it is possible that the contamination could have been due to an isolated plumbing fixture or nozzle.

Also in the report, the Rhode Island Department of Health, in cooperation with other state and federal agencies, has assessed the threats to Jamestown's water supply as at low risk of contamination. The assessment, which considered the intensity of development, the presence of business and facilities that use, store, or generate potential contaminants, how easily contaminants may move through the soil, and the sampling history of the water is part of a federal mandate to monitor community water qual- ity. Though the town was gauged to be at a low risk for contamination, the report urged that protection efforts are necessary to ensure continued potable water.

For more information, the full report will be made available on the town water department's website.

Water rules to be reconsidered

Below average rainfall for May has left the town reservoir slightly down, but the lack of rain is not stopping Town Council from considering relaxing the town's water restrictions for July and August.

Council members will hold a special public hearing on Monday, July 2, to discuss the possibility of relaxing the town's municipal water conservation measures to allow residents to engage in outdoor water usage.

Currently, per the town's water conservation rules and regulations, residents are prohibited from using town water for outdoor purposes including lawn irrigation, house washing, and boat or car washing.

Tower painting set to begin

Painting was scheduled to begin on the new water tower this week. According to Goslee, interior and exterior coating should take about four weeks depending on weather. After taking another approximately two weeks to fill, the tower should be operational sometime in August.

In other news, plans to crack down on illicit water and sewer connections are progressing. Planning what are being described as "graduated measures," the town will be sending notices to all ratepayers in the upcoming June bill notifying residents to report any suspected or known illicit connections, followed by individual letters and ultimately fines for those homeowners illegally tapped into the town's infrastructure.

Bids for construction on the town's treatment plant have been pushed back one week to June 27 in order to avoid a conflict with two other water plants which have set due dates of June 20. According to Goslee, a pre-bid conference held for prospective bidders on the treatment plant yielded a high turnout and several bids are expected.

The town should learn the status of its affordable housing project at 44 Southwest Ave. by the end of the month. According to Goslee, the state has not made a decision yet on the state housing bond but expects to make one by the end of the month.

Councilman William Kelly expressed reservations over the status of the project and asked if the town should explore alternative developers in order to secure "the best and highest price" for the property. However Councilman Schnack noted that if the building were put out to bid it would significantly set the town back in its affordable housing development and could impact the island even more if a private development firm took possession of the property.

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