GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

July 6, 2013

New DPW head faces Manchester water issue

By James Niedzinski
Staff Writer

---- — MANCHESTER — The town’s interim director of Public Works has now been named as permanent man for the job.

And following a recent drinking water report by the DPW, the new director, William Fitzgerald already has his workload filling up.

The report found that two dozen homes have lead in their water that is apparently tied to the homes themselves; the reservoir in Hamilton, which supplied nearly 80 percent of the drinking water for Manchester, does not have high levels of lead.

The report notes that the 24 homes were tested last August, and four of them exceeded the levels of allowable lead in water, the possible cause of contamination being household plumbing.

“There is a lot of speculation that was a bad sample,” Fitzgerald said, adding that one particular property that had been tested in the past never had lead levels as high.

But once a sample is taken, it cannot be discounted; in addition the samples are not based on an average of samples, just the sample with the most lead.

Because of the lead levels, the state Department of Environmental Protection determined the houses violated state drinking water regulations. The report also states activities around the Lincoln Street well have halted watershed protection.

“Unfortunately, over many years the town did not protect its Lincoln Street well, and there are numerous activities that would not normally be in a protective Zone 1 area that currently (are),” the report reads. “The town has or will have agreements with the regional school district and Essex County Club to assure maximum protection of our drinking water resource is followed.”

In addition, the report also promotes watershed protection and water regulation by installing water saving devices, taking shorter showers, fixing leaking faucets and other tips. The town has also worked to reduce the acidity in the water supply, preventing further pipe erosion.

“We have done a whole new type of corrosion control, to the make the water less aggrieve,” Fitzgerald said.

While Fitzgerald may be the new permanent director of the department, he’s not new to the town. He had served as the interim director since April, after former DPW director Steve Kenney accepted another job out of the state.

Fitzgerald was hired at his interim position by now retired town administrator Wayne Melville, and the Board of Selectmen signed off on his new contract earlier this week.

With his new three-year contract, he will be earning $102,500 annually, increasing 2 1/2 percent each year, according to new Town Administrator Greg Federspiel; Kenney’s previous salary was $112,575.

Fitzgerald has previously worked for the towns of Taunton, Franklin and Fairhaven, in addition to a number of environmental groups.

Fitzgerald said he has enjoyed working for the town and is receptive of the high level of community involvement from Manchesterites, adding he will be looking to work on long term capital projects.

“Everybody has been so great, it’s a great place to work,” he said. “I like to think I can bring some value to the town.”

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