WHERE DOES ACTON’S DRINKING WATER COME FROM?
WHAT IS GROUNDWATER?
WHY IS MY WATER PRESSURE LOW OR HIGH?
HOW DOES THE WATER GET TO MY HOUSE?
IS MY DRINKING WATER CLEAN?
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS UP ALL OVER TOWN ABOUT OUTDOOR WATERING?
IS MY DRINKING WATER SAFE?
WHAT IS IN MY DRINKING WATER?
A BROWN STAIN HAS DEVELOPED ON THE INSIDE OF MY DISHWASHER, AS WELL AS ON MY CHINA. WHY?
MY WATER IS DISCOLORED. WHY?
THERE ARE BLUE OR GREEN STAINS ON MY FIXTURES. WHY?
Most residents in Acton (almost 90 percent) receive their water from the Acton Water District, which has eleven wells located in various parts of town. These eleven wells draw water from the ground, or groundwater, and pump it to treatment plants, and then on to homes, businesses, and even your schools.
Groundwater comes from rain and snow that soaks into the ground, passing between particles of soil, sand, gravel or rock until it reaches a depth where the ground is filled, or saturated, with water. The area that is filled with water is called the saturated zone and the top of this zone is called the water table. The water table may be very near the ground surface or it may be hundreds of feet deep. Groundwater is stored in the ground in materials like gravel or sand. You can think of the earth as a big sponge holding lots of water. An area that holds a lot of water, which can be pumped up with a well, is called an aquifer.
The normal pressure for your property will depend on its physical relation to the water source supply (tanks and reservoirs). If your home is at a higher elevation relative to a tank’s location, you will have lower pressure. Conversely, the lower your home is located downhill from the tank, the higher the pressure.
Low water pressure at one faucet? A clogged aerator on a faucet can slow the flow. Remove the aerator from the faucet, clean it, and put back on.
Low water pressure only with hot water? Consult with a plumber.
Low water pressure throughout the house?
Products like water softeners or filters may reduce water pressure if recently added or needs to be serviced. A water leak in plumbing can also affect pressure.
If you have a pressure reducing valve (PRV) installed to protect your plumbing, it may need adjusting. Most PRVs are installed after the water meter or before the water heater. Talk to a plumber before adjusting it.
If your water pressure suddenly drops to almost nothing ... it is could be a result of a broken water line.
If your home is in a geographically low point or near a water pumping station, you may experience water pressure higher than 80 psi. Sustained pressure that exceeds 80 psi can damage on-site plumbing systems and may affect your water fixtures. Unfortunately, the Acton Water District can’t alleviate high water pressure, but you may consider having a licensed plumber install a pressure-reducing valve at your home.
Massacusetts plumbing codes require pressure-reducing valves (PRVs) to be installed on new or remodeled residential plumbing where water pressure exceeds 80 psi.
A PRV reduces the water pressure coming into your home, if needed, to protect your plumbing much the same way that a surge protector protects your computer or television. A licensed plumber can assess your current plumbing system and recommend whether a PRV is needed for your home.
Acton has 4 storage tanks built on top of the highest terrain in town. Water moves from the tanks, due to gravity, down a large pipe and into an intricate network of underground pipes that run all over town. Special smaller pipes branch off the larger pipes and run up to your house, providing you with water at just the turn of a spigot.
Although gravity supplies the power to move water from the tanks to your home, electricity is needed to run a pump to push water from our sources into the tanks. Although water can be delivered to pipes going to homes directly from the pump, the storage tank is needed for periods of the day when demand exceeds the supply the pump can deliver.
When drinking water is pumped from each well it has small amounts of impurities in it from coming in contact with rock, dirt, vegetation and the effects of human activity. The water from all of Acton’s wells is treated before it is delivered to your homes. This treatment helps to ensure that the water delivered to you is good tasting and healthy.
During the warmer months of the year, Acton’s water use increases by about fifty percent. This places a strain on the wells to pump enough water to meet everyone’s needs. The Acton Water District has a By-Law that limits outdoor water usage. The purpose of this is to make the best use of limited water and ensure that everyone has an opportunity to use outdoor water when really needed. Without limits on outdoor water use, the demand would likely deplete water supplies to a dangerously low level, and the District would be faced with banning all outdoor water usage.
The Acton Water District fully complies with the Safe Drinking Water Act. The District treats all of its water in order to meet state and federal requirements for public drinking water. Water is treated for corrosion control, disinfection, removal of volatile organic chemicals and to sequester iron and manganese. In addition, the Acton Water District regularly tests its water for over one hundred different contaminants. If the level of a contaminant is above a town, state, or federal health standard, then the District will notify the public and take corrective action immediately.
All drinking water, including bottled water, usually contains small amounts of some impurities. Ground water can dissolve naturally occurring minerals, such as nitrate, from the earth’s crust. Ground water can also pick up substances that are a result of human and animal activity, such as coliform. However, the presence of an impurity in your drinking water does not necessarily indicate that the water poses a health risk. The Acton Water District fully complies with all monitoring and reporting requirements of the Safe Drinking Water Act, and your drinking water meets all Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) health standards. For more details on the quality of your drinking water, see the Acton Water District’s most recent Annual Water Quality Report.
Iron and manganese are very common minerals found in New England ground water. While posing no health threat, they can be an aesthetic problem, such as causing stains on your dishwasher. The District adds polyphosphates to its water to sequester iron and manganese. The chemical bond that is formed between the two is broken quickly by high temperature. The higher the temperature, the more likely that iron and manganese will precipitate out and deposit on the surface of dishwashers or china. To avoid this problem, don’t use “hot air dry cycle” and use lower temperature water. You may also find that “Tang” or “Glisten” will remove existing stains.
There are many possible answers to this question, depending on the coloration: The water looks milky. This is probably caused by air and will dissipate with time. The water is brown or orange. This is probably iron related. You may need to drain your hot water heater or replace old iron pipes. Or, your pipes may need to be flushed. Also, this may be due to a single event, such as a main break or hydrant usage in your neighborhood. There are black specs in the water. This is probably manganese; the line may need flushing. The water is yellow. This problem requires investigation because the causes could be varied.
These stains are caused by copper. Copper can be naturally present in the ground water, and copper can leach into the water from copper pipes. Initially, copper pipes may leach a small amount of copper in the first year of use, after which concentrations will decrease. However, if the water is corrosive, the pipes may continue to release copper into the drinking water. The Water District adds potassium hydroxide to its water to reduce its corrosivity and keep the levels of copper at a minimum. In addition, the District uses a polyphosphate water treatment additive that can also help reduce the level of copper in the water.