Norwell: Major water facilities continue to run on generator, high sodium levels found in town

Like many South Shore towns, Norwell lost power Sunday afternoon after feeling the wrath of Irene. However, their two high capacity water tanks, master computer, and water treatment plant on South Street has yet to regain power and has been running on an industrial generator since the storm.

Thursday night, the Board of Water Commissioners met at Norwell Town Hall and Superintendent Jack McInnis expressed his disappointment with National Grid’s response time, “I’m unhappy because we’re a critical element of the town, the town’s water supply. We should be prioritized; the restoration of line power to our facilities should be a primary concern to National Grid. And that was the subject of some discussion during the last power outage. But it seems to be business as usual at National Grid.”

McInnis went on to explain that the department is at a “dead-end road” with a recovery date still unknown. He also stated that the water quality is no different though the major facilities in Norwell are supplying water to residents by means of back-up generators.

The Board of Water Commissioners also discussed the elevated sodium levels in Norwell and Hanover’s public water supplies found in recent years. The sodium concentration currently exceeds MassDEP guidelines and could have long term impacts on public health, especially for residents with hypertension.

Chair Peter Dillon explained what measures the town is taking to reduce the high concentration, “The sodium levels are through the roof. We’re pumping about two tons of sodium a day out of the ground that’s basically road salt.”

Both towns obtain drinking water from groundwater supplies and a watershed. According to Dillon, road salt coming from the highway and major roads such as route 53 have caused the elevation of sodium in these resources. Though non-salting is not an option as a result of public safety concerns, the town will continue to remove excess sodium and attempt to regulate road salt usage.

About Trisha McNeilly

With a Bachelor’s Degree in American Studies from the University of Massachusetts-Boston under her belt, Trisha McNeilly joins us full-time as a general assignment and breaking news reporter having previously interned for WBZ-1030 AM in Boston. A South Shore resident her whole life, McNeilly grew up in Pembroke and is 22-years old.