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South Hadley Fire District 1 water may get more chlorine

SOUTH HADLEY — The Fire District 1 Water Department is considering permanently increasing chlorination levels in its drinking water after it violated a state standard in September.

Total coliform bacteria was found in two of the 23 samples of drinking water taken during that month, according to the Water Department. The standard is that no more than one sample per month may contain coliform bacteria.

The situation was declared a non-emergency, and residents were not instructed to boil their water. A notice mailed from the Water Department to residents states that while coliform bacteria are generally not harmful, they could be an indicator that other harmful bacteria, such as E. Coli, might be present.

The department temporarily began increasing chlorine levels in the water system immediately after the problem was discovered in September, and further samples taken that month were found to have no total coliform bacteria, according to the notice.

In a telephone interview Thursday, Fire District 1 Water Department Superintendent Jeffrey Cyr said the first round of water samples taken this month have also come back clean.

The problem is caused by the chlorine decaying that occurs when the tank heats up during warmer weather, Cyr said. He said the department similarly detected coliform bacteria in water samples taken about the same time last year.

“We typically have problems around August and September,” he said, adding that these problems tend to disappear once the weather gets cooler.

To increase chlorine levels, the department will seek a permit from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection to install a booster chlorination system at the district’s water tank at 14 Mulligan Drive, Cyr said.

The water is currently chlorinated at the Ware Disinfection Facility and goes from there to the tank in South Hadley.

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