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Water-main break at Scituate Harbor causing discolored water

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  February 1, 2013 11:49 AM

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Scituate residents will see brown water coming out of their faucets for the next day or so after a water main break disrupted service at Scituate Harbor.

The break occurred on a private line at the Mill Wharf and was caused by private construction in the area. Although the only service disruptions are to a few businesses in that vicinity, discolored water will be townwide.

"What happens is it impacts the whole town,” said DPW Engineer Kevin Cafferty. “When you have a break like that, all the water rushes towards the break, so it changes the direction of flow and probably kicked up dark water.”

The dark water is caused by iron manganese deposits from over a century of water rushing through the pipes. The buildup inside the pipes typically doesn’t cause any problems, but when the flow of water is disrupted or changed, those iron deposits get stirred up, muddying the water.

Scituate officials have been working for years on a solution to the problem – a mixture of pipe cleanings that help dislodge some of the sentiment, and costly pipe replacements.

In the meantime, incidents such as these will continue to disrupt the quality of the water in town.

“It could take 24 to 48 hours [to clear out], it just depends where it comes out. The water department is doing some bleeding off some hydrants to alleviate it, but it will take its time to work its way out,” Cafferty said.

Though not appetizing, the water is not harmful to drink, officials said. The biggest problem is that it can discolor laundry.

Residents are advised to check the water prior to doing any laundry, and should avoid using hot water while the tap is still discolored.

“If you run hot water, it runs through the heater and can clog the screens,” Cafferty said.

For more information, visit the town website.

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