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Green Hill Drinking Water
This Fall I received a letter from the Town of South Kingstown about Green Hill drinking water. The notification was sent to residents describing how Green Hill water had exceeded the maximum contaminant level standard. Subsequent retesting of green hill water in November showed that it was absent of the bacteria. As a result, the Mautucket water tank that distributes water to Green Hill was put back into service.
This event got me curious about Green Hill drinking water in general, so I reached out to Jon Schock, the Public Services Director for the Town of South Kingstown. Mr. Schock, a 30-year tenured member of the town management team, shared his time generously to answer all my questions.
Here are highlights from my interview:
Can you explain the type of contaminant that was found in Green Hill water?
The contaminant is a coliform bacteria. If coliform bacteria is present in drinking water, your risk of contracting a water-borne illness is increases. The good news is when we conducted follow up testing of Green Hill water, it showed that the serious types of fecal coliform and E.Coli were NOT present.
What actions are being taken right now to address the contaminants in Green Hill water?
At the time of testing, the Matunuck Road water tank was immediately drained and the water distribution system that connects to that tank was disinfected with chlorine. This week we are constructing a chlorine disinfection facility at the Matunuck Road water tank in order to enhance our disinfection capabilities.
What do you think caused the problem?
Green Hill water travels a long distance to reach the area ~ it starts in East Matunuck where it is disinfected. As it travels through the distribution system to reach Green Hill, which can take weeks, the earlier disinfecting process seems to diminish such that by the time it reaches Green Hill, the contaminant level has risen above what is acceptable.
Green Hill is a special and unique place relative to its water consumption habits. In the summer 700,000-800,000 gallons are distributed. The peak period is Memorial Day to Labor Day. After Labor Day, consumption rates drop off dramatically to 200-300,000 gallons. This is because the tourists are gone, summer residents close their homes, and outdoor activities like lawn watering cease. In the Fall, the significant drop in usage means the travel rate of water slows further. And, as it travels more slowly, it loses the value of the earlier disinfectant process – thus causing a rise in the contaminant level.
Will Green Hill residents notice any changes in their water?
In the new disinfection facility, we will be adjusting the amount of chlorine so that it is high enough to kill any bacteria, but not so high that residents will notice a chlorine smell in their water. Regulation permit up to 4 parts per million, and we expect to be at .7-.8 parts per million.
Should I be thinking about signing up for Poland Springs Water deliveries?
One thing many don’t know is that the bottled water industry is regulated by the FDA, while municipal water systems are regulated by the EPA. The EPA has much stricter regulations than the FDA. So, from a water safety and quality standpoint, you might not be gaining anything by drinking bottled water.
Additionally, South Kingstown water rates are low. We now bill quarterly at $48, which allots a household 1250 cubic feet. Then we feature a 2 tier system where the rate is $3.25 per 100 between 1250-2500, and then $3.75 per 100 at 2500 and above. So when you compare that to the cost of bottled water, your tap water is a better value. Not to mention the unfavorable environmental impact of plastic bottle production.
Where does Green Hill Water come from?
United Water of Rhode Island in Wakefield sells water to the Town of South Kingstown. Our water operates in a CLOSED system.
After my conversation with Mr. Schock, I did some online search and discovered that United Water is a subsidiary of a company called SUEZ. Here is what I found on their website with regards to their water service to South Kingstown, RI:
United Water Rhode Island provides water service to about 19,500 people in South Kingstown and Narragansett. Its parent company, United Water, is one of the nation’s leading environmental companies, providing water and wastewater services to approximately 6.7 million people in the United States. In addition to owning and operating 15 water and wastewater utilities, United Water operates 84 municipal and industrial water and wastewater systems through innovative public-private partnerships and contract agreements. Founded in 1869, United Water is a subsidiary of SUEZ. To learn more, contact Deb Rizzi at 845-623-1500 or firstname.lastname@example.org.