RYE — Town Administrator Matthew Scruton, Select Board Chair Philip D. Winslow, Water Superintendent Arik Jones, and the Rye Water District Commission are providing regular updates to the Rye community regarding the ongoing efforts re-establish clean water for the Rye Water District.
In the most recent round of testing, all wells were clear of E.coli, however the Grove and Parsons well systems tested above the action level for coliform bacteria. The water district must show two consecutive days of testing below the action levels for the boil water order to be lifted.
Based on the most recent round of testing, it is unlikely that the boil water order will be lifted this week.
The Rye Water District on Thursday met with and hired the Wright Pierce Environmental Engineering firm. Wright Pierce will immediately aid in the investigation that seeks to determine the cause of the contamination. Wright Pierce will also serve as an outside firm to conduct a review of the Water District’s response thus far and advise the district on next steps.
Wright Pierce will help the town and water district on immediate and long-term options moving forward. All options are on the table, including the possibility of a long-term
chlorine treatment program. The district has not made a decision on long-term chlorination as of yet, but the Town and Water District are seeking to be as transparent as possible during this water emergency.
Due to the test results received Thursday showing coliform bacteria above action levels, N.H. Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) mandates that additional chlorine treatments be made.
While the Rye Water District has not needed to use chlorine treatments on a regular basis in the recent past, such treatments are used in the majority of water systems across the state.
An information session and public forum are being planned for members of the Rye community, and details of that event will be shared in the coming days.
Field inspection of the entire Rye Water District system continued on Thursday, as did testing at all well sites. The latest samples from each well were delivered to the lab Thursday morning
The Rye Water District and NHDES are actively investigating the source of the contamination and are looking at all possible factors. No clear and obvious cause has been identified, so this investigation remains active and ongoing.
About the Water Source
Rye depends on groundwater for its public drinking water. Groundwater is generally very clean and requires little treatment. Unlike surface water sources like reservoirs, groundwater can be delivered to homes without significant amounts of chemical additives. Most groundwater-based public water systems rely on testing and minimal treatment before sending water through the system. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, groundwater is generally less susceptible to bacterial pollution than surface water because the soil and rocks through which ground water flows screen out most of the bacteria. This makes locating any possible source of the current contamination of the utmost importance.
According to the CDC, a number of factors can contribute to E.coli contamination in drinking water, including agriculture practices (especially from cattle), agricultural runoff, defective or missing backflow preventers in irrigation systems, defective or broken septic systems, or stormwater runoff.
Residents can take a number of steps to protect the public water supply, including:
- Regularly inspecting septic systems and making repairs where necessary;
- Private well owners should inspect or replace well caps or dug well covers where indicated;
- Keeping animals/livestock away from waterways, including streams.
The Rye leadership team continues to meet daily. NHDES and mutual aid partners continued their constant presence this week.
Bottled water distribution for residents affected by the boil water order began Thursday, Oct. 20. Thanks to the Rye firefighters and the caring spirit of volunteerism of the Rye, New Hampshire’s Lions Club, this effort will continue, and a new distribution schedule will be finalized and announced later this week.
About the Rye Water District
Rye residents and businesses receive water from one of four sources: Rye Water District (RWD), Aquarian Water, Portsmouth Water, and private wells. The Rye Water District is a private non-profit municipality, and one of three Districts serving the Town of Rye. The Rye Water District provides public water service to the majority of Rye residents.
The Rye Water District is governed by a three-member Board of Commissioners who oversee the District and are each elected to a three-year term. Commissioners hold regular public meetings and have annual meetings for budget and other governance issues, independent of the Town.
The employees of the Rye Water District are not Town employees.
District Commissioners and employees are committed to ensuring the safety of the District’s drinking water and regularly consult with NHDES, the Town, and other communities. Through their diligence and commitment to following strict guidelines and procedures, the Rye Water District ensures that customers reliably receive clean and safe drinking water and that the water system is monitored and maintained using high safety standards.