Friday, July 5, 2013

Water Safety

 Atkins Reservoir, Amherst/Shutesbury line

 How safe is our drinking water?

According to the recently mailed 15th annual Town of Amherst Drinking Water Quality Report -- fine reading on a hot summer day -- the public water supply for our little town is perfectly safe.  I'll drink to that.

Every major test parameter (Inorganic substances, radioactive contaminants, disinfection residuals) tested below "violation" level. 

Amherst has a "complicated" water distribution system: two surface reservoirs, one located on Amherst/Shutesbury border (Atkins) and the other in Pelham, and five ground wells located in the Lawrence Swamp.

Operating at full capacity the system is capable of pumping out just over 6 million gallons of treated water daily.
Pelham Reservoir system

Last year average demand was 2.65 million gallons per day with peak demand occurring on July 19th, a thirst requiring 4.185 million gallons of water to quench.  UMass is our #1 consumer of water absorbing 31.04% of total, although they were not in session on the day of peak demand. 

In 2002 the state performed a Source Water Assessment and Protection (SWAP) report for the town outlining common sense water protection methods for keeping the system safe, mainly by controlling/owning the land immediately around the water source (400 feet), called Zone 1.

In 2005 Tighe & Bond did a "Public Water Protection Plan" for the town which pretty much mirrored the SWAP report from three years earlier, where the main concern was dealing with inappropriate land use (industrial, farming, homes with septic systems, etc) too near the water supply.

Interestingly -- even though both studies are post 9/11 -- neither of them addresses sabotage.  Both reservoirs are located within spitting distance of paved roads, so it would be easy to drive a pick up truck almost directly up to the unguarded body of water and unload whatever you please.

 Atkins Reservoir with nearby road

Sure Atkins is pretty b-i-g with a maximum capacity of 200 million gallons.   However, if you dissolve in that body of water 1760 pounds (thirty-five 50 pound bags) of something, say arsenic, it would reach a level of one part per million.

EPA regulations for arsenic in drinking water set a maximum of ten parts per billion.

Massachusetts State Police briefly detained seven college aged trespassers (one of them from Amherst) around the Quabbin Reservoir almost two months ago, immediately setting off terrorism concerns.

Should you be concerned?  Probably not.  Highly unlikely anyone would try to poison an entire town.

But then, 12 years ago it was also highly unlikely anyone would hijack civilian commercial airliners and fly them into buildings.

 Atkins Reservoir


Anonymous said...

I think we're (not you, Larry) getting a bit cavalier about the safety implications of several people walking away from the Quabbin in the middle of the night. The Mass State Police are right to make an issue of this.

Anonymous said...

No need to do something like that so publicly.When you can do it privately right from youre own home.Small pump in the basement.
Well,you get the idea.

Walter Graff said...

You're a lousy terrorist Larry. A mere 1/2 kilogram of Salmonella typhi would do the trick quit well. But fear not. Amherst isn't a terrorist dreams. Just as the time they shut down Staples in Hadley thinking a terrorist might strike. Bigger fish to fry. At least for the foreign type of terrorist that wants big recognition. The local homegrown type finds things like OK city blast works just fine.

Anonymous said...

Googling to get concert info-
You tube has a few Babetown videos-
and this ARHS Larry Kelley Show:
Didn't watch it- but thought you might

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

The sincerest form of flattery. Good job, Kid!! You should be proud, Larry.

Anonymous said...

Graff represents the prototypical Western Fool, lulled into believing they only want to hit us every ten years at a symbolic location in a big city.

Go eat a Big Mac, Graff, and leave the thinking to the pros.