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Massachusetts puts waterworks on notice over compound linked to cancer in Great Barrington's drinking water

Mar 07, 2022 1:15 am

Heather Bellow is reporting for The Berkshire Eagle the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection has ordered the Housatonic Water Works Co. in Great Barrington, Mass., to present by April 4 a proposal for reducing levels of a disinfectant byproduct linked to cancer in its drinking water. If the company fails to meet the deadline or secure an extension, legal action, “including, but not limited to, criminal prosecution, court-imposed civil penalties, or civil administrative penalties,” could follow, according to a March 3 notice from Deirdre Doherty, with the Western Regional office of the DEP. The utility could also be added to the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s list of water systems that have not fixed problems requiring action. In the last half of 2021, the company reported elevated levels of haloacetic acid, a chlorine byproduct also known as HAA5, and neglected to notify the public of some of the test results within the required 30 days. In addition, the company was late with some reports to the DEP. Waterworks co-owner and Treasurer James Mercer said the company plans to fix the problem. “All we’re looking to do is follow the science on this and get the levels under control,” he said. “We fully intend to meet all the requirements.” Customers have complained of periodic bouts of discolored water and sediment for the past 10 years. Pressed by residents, town officials are considering a takeover of the company, and residents are asking top state officials for help. Read more in The Berkshire Eagle.