By Chris Maza
WILBRAHAM – Wilbraham will be one of three communities in Western Massachusetts that will soon be receiving additional treatment to the water it receives from Quabbin Reservoir.
The town, which along with Chicopee and South Hadley Fire District No. 1 make up the Chicopee Valley Aqueduct Water System that has its water supplied from Quabbin, will benefit from a new ultraviolet (UV) light treatment system that is being constructed at its facility in Ware.
“Right now, the facility in Ware just uses chlorination,” Ria Convery, communications director for the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA), said. “The [Environmental Protection Agency] has put out the Long Term 2 Enhanced Surface Water Treatment Rule, which requires more than one form of treatment, specifically for open bodies of water. UV treatment was our weapon of choice as a second treatment.”
Convery said the new system installation is very similar to the one being installed at John J. Carroll Water Treatment Plant in Marlborough.
“We’re building them both at the same time,” she said. “They have to be done by August, but we hope to be done long before that.”
UV light treatment is beneficial because it does not require any additional chemicals in order to kill potentially harmful pathogens that can be found in untreated water, Convery said. Instead, water is passed through large tubes producing UV light that neutralize microorganisms.
Residents will not see any adverse affects to the taste or safety of their drinking water, she added.
Most specifically, with the additional treatment, the MWRA aims to cancel out any threat of Cryptosporidium. According to the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control, Cryptosporidium is a microscopic parasite protected by an outer shell that makes it tolerant to chlorine treatments. Those infected can experience stomach pain, dehydration, nausea and vomiting, fever and weight loss.
“It’s not so much of an issue now, but in the early 90s in Milwaukee [Wis.], there was a very serious outbreak and it became a concern nationwide, especially for those with immune deficiencies and the elderly,” Convery said.
During the incident in Milwaukee, which took place in 1993, approximately 400,000 people were affected and more than 100 people died.
Cancer treatment and transplant patients and those with AIDS are among the most vulnerable.
Additional information is available on the town’s website or at www.mwra.com/04water/html/cvauv.html
Those with questions or concerns can contact Len Cawley, MWRA community relations manager at firstname.lastname@example.org
or call 617-660-7972.