GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

December 6, 2012

Work likely to taint color of Rockport water

By James Niedzinski
Staff Writer

---- — ROCKPORT — Town officials are putting one of Rockport’s three water tanks back in service, and they say that should benefit residents.

But many may also see discolored drinking water over the next few days while the long-overdue maintenance work is being carried out.

Joseph Parisi, director of the Department of Public Works, said the refilling of the south end water tank, which began Thursday, may cause some brown discoloration in drinking water throughout the town.

The 850,000-gallon tank was drained in the fall of 2011 so minor exterior work could be done, such as repairing a ladder, Parisi said. The Rockwood Corporation was tasked with making the repairs to the tank, the first time the town has carried out such repairs in some 20 years.

Pierce Law Jr., general manager of the corporation, said the work was routine maintenance.

“Tanks like these need to be maintained every certain number of years to comply with health standards,” he said.

Generally, once any work begins on a tank the whole system needs to be analyzed to comply with standards, Law said.

The interior of the tank was also repaired to comply with health and Occupational Health and Safety Administration guidelines.

Law said this step involved fixing corrosion and normal wear and tear to the tank. The inside of the tank was blasted with recyclable steel gritt bits and was finished with an epoxy coating to prevent further damage.

Parisi said the whole project, which also includes a fresh coat of paint this spring, costs about $600,000.

According to Parisi, work on the south end tank also includes reworking the water filling system. He said a new mixing system was also put into place, so water does not get stale and rush downward through the pipes, causing further discoloration.

The tank refilling process, however, might cause sediment to come loose from the pipes, causing a brown discoloration in the water, Parisi said.

On Thursday night, Parisi said the process was going well.

“We’ve put chlorine in, and the water is at the six-foot level so far,” he said.

Filling a 850,000 gallon tank is a time consuming process and there will be further discoloration of the water throughout the weekend.

Parisi advised residents that the brown water is not unsafe, but residents who are confronted with it should simply run their taps until it clears.

“Come Monday,” he said, “we can see how far we’ve come.”

James Niedzinski can be reached at 978-283-7000, x 3455 or at jniedzinski@gloucestertimes.com.