HANSON — Classic rock tunes aside, there’s nothing to love about dirty water when it’s coming out of your home faucets.
“It’s random,” said Assessor Lee Gamache, who lives on Main Street. “It can be clear and then one day it’s just bad. … Sometimes it’s actual sludge coming out of the pipes.”
Homeowners are frustrated with the situation.
Besides health concerns, many say it’s unfair to expect them to pay for running water for as long as five hours to flush sediment from traps while the town is under a water ban. Gamache did say she had her water independently tested and said it was deemed safe to drink, but can irritate skin when one bathes in it.
The town is on Brockton water while the High Street water tank undergoes routine maintenance.
One couple, 38-year residents Brian and Lorraine Skorohod of 791 High St., having found no recourse with the Water Department, brought their plight to the Board of Selectmen Tuesday, May 24, seeking recourse for water bills and damage to their home.
Selectmen responded that, while there is really no financial action they could take, they authorized Town Administrator Michael McCue to look into the issue.
“This is not an issue the Board of Selectmen has purview over, however with the board’s acquiescence I can certainly take a look to see if there are any avenues [under which] something like that could be addressed,” McCue said.
Selectman Bruce Young suggested the situation could provide an opportunity for the Water Department to formulate emergency plans for the future.
“I don’t think this is something that’s happened before,” Young said. “It’s been the most expensive [maintenance] shut-down in the water tank’s history.”
He noted that the town couldn’t compensate residents, as the Water Department is a separate entity.
Lorraine Skorohod had brought in a sample of their water drawn this week, with black manganese and iron sediment at the bottom, and asked if selectmen would like to drink it.
“If our water is drinkable, then I certainly wouldn’t want to drink this — and that’s what we were told,” she said. “Would you want to drink that?”
“No, ma’am,” said Selectmen Chairman James McGahan, noting the board is equally frustrated and he appreciates the Skorohod’s efforts to speak on behalf of many residents dealing with the same problems.
Board of Health Chairman Gil Amado, who also serves on the Water Commission, said many hours have already been invested in seeking a solution.
“The water from the Pleasant Street break … was literally the color of root beer coming out of the tap,” Brian Skorohod said. “It was like that for a whole day.”
He said the water meter “is spinning the whole time” homeowners have outside spigots open to drain traps.
“I’m not the only one that has a problem on High Street,” Lorraine Skorohod said, noting that one of her neighbors has an infant that needs water.
“I can understand the dilemma that the town is in,” Brian Skorohod said. “But we shouldn’t have to continually pay somebody to come out and make repairs due to that.”
The Skorohods were upset that they have had to pay for three service calls and parts costs for work on a gas boiler that was installed in December 2014 as a result of the water main break. Their boiler had been working fine until sediment-tainted water got into the system and flooded the boiler and electrical panel — both of which had been properly installed.
“I just want to know if there’s some recourse,” Brian Skorohod said. “If we can have the town reimburse us for the money that we’re spending because of this problem.”
Selectman and former Water Commissioner Don Howard said the problems began with the Pleasant Street water main break several weeks ago. The break was observed by a resident at 3 a.m., but not reported right away.
“We’re trying to solve the problems,” Howard said.
Calls began pouring into the Police Department later on the morning of the Pleasant Street break, because of low water pressure on High Street, Route 58 and where the ground is high on Whitman Street. Police discovered the break at about 6 a.m., after patrolling the area to investigate the calls.
The main was shut off for repairs, but by that time, Howard said, it is estimated the water had been flowing since about midnight — about six hours.
“The pressure in the system dropped down to 70 pounds coming in from Brockton,” Howard said. “Having the water run like a spider web where the break is, it disturbed everything in the water mains south of West Washington Street, High Street and everything into Monponsett Street.
By the time pressure was restored all the lines were filled with manganese and iron. When the water tank is online, the water flows in the opposite direction through the mains.
Back online in June
The tank is expected to be back online by mid-June, but the water may still be affected through the end of the month. Hydrant flushing in Hanson takes place in the fall.
“Water pressure fluctuates [by 20 to 30 pounds] coming from the city of Brockton,” said Water Superintendent Richard Muncey. “That’s creating different surges throughout our system. It stems from their service flow.”
Because of that pressure fluctuation, there have been four more water main breaks in Hanson, according to Howard.
“Every week we’ve had one,” Muncey said.
“There really isn’t anything you can do with it until you’re on your own system,” Howard said.