Drinking Water Advisory Remains in Effect in Hyannis

KA_Hyannis_Hyarts Cultural District Main street waterfront fishing tour boats_11315HYANNIS – A drinking water health advisory remains in effect for the Hyannis public drinking water system.

The Barnstable Department of Public Works took the move last month after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a new health advisory for two chemicals, Perfluorooctane Sulfonate and Perfluorooctanoic Acid.

The previous limit was .07 parts per billion for (PFOA). The new advisory is .20 parts per billion.

Since the advisory was first issued last month, the DPW and Hyannis Water System have taken several steps to remediate the problem.

They’ve sampled all wells and locations in the distribution system, taken the Mary Dunn Well #3 off-line until a treatment system can be installed and minimized the use of Maher well #1.

The treatment systems previously installed on Mary Dunn wells #1 and #2 have also been restarted and bottled water has been made available to consumers.

The installation of a carbon treatment system for Mary Dunn well #3 should be on-line by July 1.

An interconnection with the Yarmouth Water Department to bring contaminant-free water into Hyannis has also been established.

“We have actually begun purchasing water from the Town of Yarmouth that does not have contaminants in it, so we’re adding clean water. We’ve flushed our system, we’ve minimized the use of the wells,” said Department of Public Works Director Dan Santos.

The results of tests taken right after the issuance of the health advisory showed some residual levels in excess of the health advisory, but those tests were taken before all the remediation efforts were put in place.

The chemicals have been used in the production of carpets, clothing, fabrics for furniture and paper packaging for food.

They are also used for fire training and the DPW believes that the likely source of the chemicals in the Mary Dunn wellfield is from the use of firefighting foams at the Barnstable County Firefighter Training Academy.

“During the many years these were used, they weren’t aware they were contaminants so it’s just unfortunate that our wellfield is in line with how groundwater flows from the fire training academy and it has gone directly to our wells,” said Santos when the first advisory was issued.

According to the EPA, pregnant women, nursing mothers and infants are the most sensitive to the chemicals and are asked to not consume water from the Hyannis water system.

“The most impacted population or sensitive population to this is considered to be pregnant women and nursing mothers and infants. They should not drink the water or prepare food with the water,” said Santos.

Older children and adults are determined to be less sensitive to shorter-term exposures of the chemicals and no precautions are recommended.

The DPW said that the water is safe to use for washing foods, brushing teeth, bathing and showering.

Those who are concerned, can use bottled water to reduce exposure. Bottled water can be picked up at the Barnstable Water Supply Division on Old Yarmouth Road.

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