After legal settlement, South Deerfield Water District awaits OK for testing, audit

  • The South Deerfield Water Supply District building, building, which sits off of Route 116. FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 12/5/2021 11:10:16 AM

SOUTH DEERFIELD — The South Deerfield Water Supply District is awaiting approval from the Attorney General’s Office regarding its choices for third-party testing and auditing services following a September legal settlement.

As part of the settlement, the South Deerfield Water Supply District must implement a series of auditing and oversight measures to ensure clean drinking water for the approximately 3,800 residents in South Deerfield and a portion of Whately that it serves. Superintendent Dan Dion said the district has put these measures in place, but is waiting for official approval.

“We did submit to the attorney general who we’re trying to use for third-party testing, sampling and auditing,” Dion asserted. “The attorney general has not gotten back to us yet if they’re approved or not. … Hopefully, they just approve who we want.”

The settlement follows an investigation into former Superintendent Roger Sadoski Jr. and the South Deerfield Water Supply District allegedly failing to report levels of chlorine and the turbid quality (the cloudiness) in the public’s water by repeatedly altering the water records and monthly reports before sending them to the state Department of Environmental Protection from 2014 to 2018.

Additionally, the South Deerfield Water Supply District allegedly, under Sadoski’s orders, illegally handled and removed an asbestos-containing pipe during an emergency repair in 2018, which polluted the air and put the health of both staff and the public at risk, according to the AG’s office. Sadoski himself has surrendered his professional water license, is barred from any public water supply work and must pay $200,000 in civil penalties.

Also as a result of the settlement, the Attorney General’s Office ordered the South Deerfield Water Supply District to submit choices for labs and organizations to conduct the following third-party testing and auditing measures:

■Calibration of the water district’s water quality monitoring equipment.

■Three years of increased chlorine, bacteria and turbidity sampling.

■Monthly analyses of the district’s internal, electronically recorded logs.

■Increased asbestos sampling.

■Certified professional engineering study to find optimal pH levels within the water distribution system.

The district is requesting to use Hatfield-based Howard Laboratories for the sampling and Littleton-based Small Water System Services for water quality audits.

Dion said the quotes received for sampling and auditing are between $6,000 and $7,000, and will not put too much of a strain on the district’s $1 million budget. He added that the district is continuing to improve some water main projects in the system and has more changes planned for the future.

“It is coming out of our budget, but it’s not a significant amount that we can’t continue with improvements in the system,” he said of the sampling and auditing costs. “There were no fines or penalties to the district, and many of the terms agreed to in the settlement were things that the district was already planning or have been completed.”

The settlement may also require additional training, but Dion said all four current staff have completed required trainings and they are waiting to hear from the Attorney General’s Office.

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