Water Supply Update - October

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Water Supply Update
Serving the Communities of Hingham, Hull, & North Cohasset

Water Resource Management

Here at Aquarion we have been actively and responsibly managing our water supply system for many years. This entails making responsible and proactive choices about the operation of our existing sources (our reservoir and eleven wells), and balancing our decisions with an understanding of our water system usage demands. Active management of our existing sources includes activities such as rehabilitating our wells to maintain their pumping capacity and continued investment in our source water delivery infrastrucuture (pumps and pipes). To help manage our demands, we focus on reducing leakage (finding and fixing leaks), replacing and calibrating our water meters, and water conservation through our Customer Water Conservation program.

Several years ago, we embarked on a program of evaluating options for meeting our future long term water supply needs. Working with our consulting engineers, the Department of Conservation and Recreation, Town Planners, and the Donahue Institute at the University of Massachusetts, growth projections suggest that an additional supply of water will be needed by 2031. We are actively working with our consultants, the Department of Environmental Protection, and watershed associations to evaluate and further develop alternatives. Last week, we gave a presentation at the Annual Weir River Watershed Association meeting regarding the status of our current plans and activities.


Groundwater and surface water levels are normal for this time of year. As of the end of October 2017, Accord Pond was at 54% capacity.


Water Supply and Demand - Success in Managing Water Withdrawals 

The average amount of water pumped from our sources to meet demands in October 2017 was 3.35 million gallons per day (MGD), which is above the 6-year average for October. We attribute this increase in usage to the hydrant flushing program. Despite the higher than average withdrawals in October 2017, our cumulative water withdrawals for the year are the lowest recorded in the past 5 years. Cumulative annual water withdrawals for the past 5 years are shown in the figure below.

The relatively low withdrawal volume this year is attributable to our water management efforts, including finding and fixing leaks, and implementing water conservation initiatives like irrigation restrictions and a plumbing fixture replacement program.

Since 2014, we have identified and repaired more than 80 leaks which have helped us reduce lost water by 22%, as measured by "unaccounted-for-water" an industry standard measurement of lost water.

We would like to thank all of our customers in Hingham, Hull, and north Cohasset for adhering to the annual irrigation restrictions this past year which are in effect from April 15 through October 15. Your efforts help preserve the water supply for the benefit our residents and the environment.


Water Quality - Delivering Safe, High Quality Water Is Our Priority

Delivering safe and reliable drinking water to residents and businesses is Aquarion’s highest priority. As part of this commitment, we have been “flushing” water mains throughout our distribution system to reduce the risk of our customers receiving discolored water.

Discolored water is most typically caused by naturally occurring minerals (primarily iron and manganese) that are in the water. Trace levels of these minerals, which are heavier than water, can settle in our water mains when water customer usage is low – especially during winter months. Then, when flow through the water mains increases (for example, due to spring/summer water demands, fire hydrant use, or a water main break) it can stir up these accumulated minerals, which can then flow into your household plumbing system.

The best way to minimize the potential for water discoloration is to periodically use controlled hydrant flushing to remove these sediments from our mains. This is done by opening fire hydrants to intentionally create a controlled flow disruption, and then keeping the hydrants open and flowing to discharge the discolored water and sediments from the hydrants.

By the end of November 2017, we expect to complete our distribution system flushing program which was conducted in 3 phases: spring, summer, and fall. We flushed fire hydrants in the evenings from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m., Sunday through Thursday. In all, we have flushed over 800 hydrants since the spring of 2017. To find out specific details about our nightly flushing schedule, please check out our website alerts by entering "Hingham" in the input box, or try the following link: www.aquarionwater.com/alerts.cfm?city=Hingham,MA.


Customer Service/Community Outreach - Supporting and Enhancing the Communities Where We Live, Work, and Operate

As you know, we have a strong, ongoing commitment to prudently managing our water resources. Last month, we shared with the Hingham Water Supply Committee that our current water supplies have enough capacity to meet these increasing demands through 2031. Our efforts to reduce lost water have played a significant role in preserving the water supply, allowing us to provide for these growing water demands. However, because the development of a new source of water supply can take years, we are continuing with our plans to identify and develop an additional water supply source. As part of the presentation to the Hingham Water Supply Committee, we shared results from tests conducted in South Hingham, as well as information regarding a potential connection with the Massachusetts Water Resource Authority (MWRA). As part of its continued community partnerships, for over a decade, Aquarion has worked in collaboration with the Hingham Water Supply Committee. Aquarion representatives have met with the committee on a regular basis over the years, sharing information, engaging in important dialogue and seeking feedback from the members. In addition, we recently gave a similar presentation at the Weir River Watershed Association annual meeting on November 15th.

Aquarion's Customer Advisory Board (CAB) met at the end October. The meeting provided Aquarion an opportunity to understand their thoughts, opinions and concerns and discuss which facts about the water system are important, since as you may know, the Board of Selectmen are considering a purchase of the Aquarion Water system. The presentation by Aquarion sparked many questions and we are fortunate to have a diverse group of interested residents from Hingham, Hull and north Cohasset serving on the board.

This month, in honor of all those who serve and have served, Aquarion Water Company offered our thanks this Veteran’s Day with a donation in support of the Christopher J. Orlando USMC Memorial Scholarship Fund, which is awarded to a Hingham High School senior who plans on pursuing a career in the military, police, fire or vocational technical fields. We believe in supporting and enhancing the communities where we live, work, and operate.


Operational News and Notes 

To find out more details about our Customer Water Conservation Program and see if you are eligible, please visit our website at: www.aquarionwater.com/conservationoffers.

We are scheduled to finish with our 3rd phase of hydrant flushing in 2017 by the end of November. Hydrant flushing will begin again in the spring of 2018.

We are also finalizing plans to paint the Accord water storage tank in 2018. We expect to begin this work in March 2018 and have it completed by the end of May 2018.