By Alan Burke
---- — PEABODY — The city is set to spend a million dollars to keep its drinking water safe.
Mayor Ted Bettencourt has unveiled the details of a new program, to begin in May, that will ensure that Peabody’s two main water treatment facilities can pass new and more stringent Environmental Protection Agency standards. The work is slated to finish by year’s end.
Funds for the job were appropriated by the City Council last January. Obtaining bids for the work at the Winona and Coolidge facilities is the next step.
Some of the planned upgrades involve obtaining new chemicals designed to deal with water that is treated with chlorine, Bettencourt said. “And some work needs to be done to the infrastructure.” In other words, there must be changes in the physical plant.
Water treated with chlorine can produce “disinfectant byproducts,” or DBPs. Some studies have shown that the presence of these byproducts can have a negative impact on human health. In recent samples of city water, levels of DBPs exceeding the federal standards were discovered. The upgrades are meant to deal with this.
Bettencourt cautions that the Department of Environmental Protection says the discovery does not constitute an emergency or any imminent risk to Peabody residents using city water. It’s the same water as before, but the test has become more sensitive.
The mayor sent notices to residents advising, “Ensuring the safety of our drinking water is a primary responsibility of municipal government and one that I take very seriously. Please know that I am committed to doing whatever it takes to see that Peabody meets the EPA’s testing requirements and continues to provide its residents with safe, healthy drinking water.”