Andover Townsman, Andover, MA


July 24, 2013

Water blues run brown in town taps

High water use blamed for kicking up sediment in pipes

After mowing his lawn on North Street last Saturday in 90-degree heat, Greg Brown reached for a well-deserved cold glass of tap water from his kitchen sink.

What he saw made him go “ewwwww.”

The water was brown.

He and numerous others who have been seeing their taps run brown in recent weeks can blame summer’s scorching weather in part for their water woes.

Acting Department of Public Works Director Chris Cronin said customers used twice as much water during last week’s heat wave, causing sediment to be kicked up in the pipes, which resulted in the brown water.

Normally, Andover uses 5.8 million gallons of water a day. Last Friday, July 19, at the end of a prolonged heat wave, water usage topped 12.9 million gallons, Cronin said.

Plus, a water main break on Haverhill Street paired with a leak off Lowell Street earlier this month also contributed to the sediment buildup that traveled through the town’s water pipes.

Cronin said a fall flushing program should help reduce sediment buildup in town pipes. Annual Town Meeting voters in May OK’d spending $195,000 to launch the water distribution flushing program. Water will be flushed through hydrants around town this fall during periods when water usage is typically lower.

But in the meantime, some residents said brown water has been flowing for far too long.

”We have dealt with this for over three years and it’s time to rectify the situation,” Brown’s wife, Leah, said. “It’s bad and affecting so many people.”

Last weekend, Cronin sent a public works crew to North Street to flush some lines. Leah Brown said the water at her house was good — for a day. But by Monday, July 22, it was brown again.

Leah Brown said she appreciated Cronin dispatching workers to her neighborhood on a weekend. But in a town where water bills just rose 1 percent (about $4) this month, she said she’s grown frustrated and has emailed numerous town officials for some answers.

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