18 Jul, 2022

What to know about Scituate’s water quality.

The water quality in the town of Scituate, MA has been a tender topic for a long time. Some Facebook comments show that people have been complaining about poor water quality for over 23 years. Brown water was always public enemy #1 until Erin Brokovich started calling the town out on certain disinfectant byproduct violations a couple years ago. This topic is back on the front burner since residents received warning notices from the Department of Water dating September 10, 2020. This is the same violation warning that the towns of Hanover, Abington, Hingham, Rockland, and others have received stating violations of EPA maximum contamination levels (MCL) for trihalomethanes. There are mixed blessings with getting these notices as well as things you should know. This blog is offered in order to make sense of this issue, stay level-headed with regards to expectations, and prepare yourself to go forward so that healthy water in your home won’t seem hopeless.

We know very little about what is in our drinking water. This is true for every resident of the United States. The reason for this is basically 3-fold.

  1. Very little regulation exists for what is allowed to be landfilled. As more things are buried and dissolved by rainwater, more of these volatile organics make it into the water tables, town wells, and even reservoirs through runoff. There are hundreds of chemicals, metals, chlorides, pesticides, fertilizers, bio-waste, pharmaceuticals, etc that are not regulated and can mutate chlorine to make it 1000s of times more cytotoxic (tough on immune systems). 
  2. Less than 10% of contaminants known to exist in the average town’s water system on EPA’s website are regulated. There are over 100 known toxins the EPA has not moved on for over 20 years. What is regulated is what chlorine or chloramine changes into. These are called disinfectant byproducts of which total trihalomethanes (TTHMs) are of greater concern. Unless you make a habit of reading your town’s water quality report every year or get a violation notice, you literally have no idea. Your water department has no incentive to discover or disclose anything about the water than the least amount necessitated by very weak and insufficient EPA guidelines.
  3. No comprehensive water testing services or products exist that can identify and measure the vast majority of common contaminants. Tests for these harmful contaminants have to be designed and they are expensive to conduct. Those DIY home test strips are almost of no use and were invented to basically show PH and hardness and are best used to sell someone a water softener.

We should not be encouraged to think this will change for the better soon. It will likely get progressively worse as most of these determinants are beyond the control of any water department.

It was only a matter of time before Scituate exceeded the MCL for TTHMs (chlorine disinfectant byproducts). The town’s range has been very wide, and the high end has been around 150 ppb TTHM during past tests. The notice to residents’ state that the average TTHM readings are in excess of the EPA’s MCL of 80 ppb. The EU uses 50 ppb and levels much lower have proven to cause serious health issues. The town of Scituate also violates the State’s MCL limit for PFAs.

We know that the two main functions of water that make it so vital to our health is that it is the delivery system for essential minerals like calcium, magnesium, potassium, etc to our bodies. They are so highly dissolved that these minerals can’t be filtered out. They enter through our skin in the shower. As a matter of fact, calcium and magnesium are most bio-available this way. The other function of water is to flush out toxins that our bodies process all the time. Our blood and organs process toxins and are regenerated when water takes these out of the body. 

The presence of THMs and other toxins in the water means that your immune system never gets to regenerate, and your immune system has to work harder and harder against these powerful toxins. Over time, our immune systems just get tired and weaken. This is when we are susceptible to sicknesses of many forms. This is why those letters say that it is ok to drink the water but not for a long time or if you are elderly, immune deficient, pregnant, or an infant.

The water departments of almost every town can only be depended upon to deliver highly disinfected water to your home. Disinfecting may kill bacteria and virus but exaggerate other forms of contamination. These departments aren’t responsible for what is still being buried in the ground, are told what to disinfect with by the EPA, and can’t afford the extremely high-cost water infrastructure/treatment upgrades needed.  Since almost everything concerning the end-quality of your water is beyond the control of any water department, it is a good time to educate yourself with how you can have healthy water in your home and plan financially in order to make this vital resource a reality.

The topic of home water filtration is a confusing one but knowing a few simple truths will point you in the right direction for the right solution. The physics of water purification are very simple and involve two things: mechanical filtration and carbon purification. Mechanical filtration means that if it can’t fit through the hole it can’t go past. Carbon is natures purifier and unique in that it’s massive surface area and unique charge encourages contaminants of almost every type to leave the water and stick to its surface in a process called adsorption. Once attached these contaminants cannot leave. Carbon can’t be cleaned off from these contaminants and can only be burned off at 1600 degrees. Carbon will adsorb every contaminant outside arsenic (not a South Shore issue), fluoride, radionuclides, and a few very heavy metals. The basic relationship between filtration and carbon purification is the the better a system filters (to a lower micron size) the more efficiently and effectively the carbon will purify. No under-the -sink or point of use system has enough of either to remove THMs and the main exposure to these toxins in the shower still exists. Having adequate filtration and carbon at the point of entry by your water meter is the solution. On-line systems from companies like Aquasana and Pelican also can’t handle high THM water because they lack the filtration and carbon to do so. They are disposable systems because having the correct amount of carbon needed would create a maintenance nightmare for the owner. Reverse osmosis systems produce distilled water and leave you unprotected in the areas of most exposure and salt-based softeners only remove these essential minerals that water was created to deliver to our bodies. They do not filter or remove contaminants of any type.

With regards to Scituate, the filtration efforts of almost any system are rendered ineffective by the extreme sediment and iron/manganese environment. Since 2020 and now far worse is the presence of iron-related and slime-forming bacteria most present from Lawson Road down to lower Hatherly Rd. The precipitated iron and manganese bacteria have been allowed to exist to a degree that a slime barrier now exists. This creates even more problems as it reaches any filtration. Many system providers have resorted to back-washing filters and carbon tanks which filter to 10 microns. The expensive carbon in these systems run far less efficiently but will reduce contamination and clear the water up for a short while. The hidden costs are in sewer costs as these back-washing systems consume water. These systems are both lower performance and the carbon will be depleted very quickly without the owner knowing when it has lost adsorption rates. One can’t smell or taste THMs or the other contaminants, so you use in faith that it is working while having no proof.

Please feel free to reach out to us at www.TrueHealthWS.com via the “contact us” website tab and learn about our systems that filter to 0.35 micron even in the dirtiest of Scituate’s areas, provide maximum carbon efficiency, and prove total contaminant removal via multiple test sites every 6 months to ensure the owner’s health and peace of mind. The good news is that you can have pure water at home and the end cost is very low relative to most popular home-improvement projects.

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