South Deerfield Water Supply District gets $213K for lead pipe inventory

By CHRIS LARABEE

Staff Writer

Published: 08-02-2023 7:00 PM

SOUTH DEERFIELD — A new state grant will give one of the town’s water suppliers a renewed look at its underground infrastructure.

The South Deerfield Water Supply District recently received a $213,000 planning grant from the state Clean Water Trust to begin taking inventory of all the water pipes in town, with the intention of updating the district’s records and determining if there are any lead pipes in the ground.

Superintendent Dan Dion said the South Deerfield Water Supply District will work with engineering consulting firm Tighe & Bond to analyze the district’s historical records and vacuum excavate any “high-risk” areas around town to complete a full inventory of the pipes. Vacuum excavation is a less-intrusive method of digging that uses air to loosen up soil and other materials in the ground and reduces the need for a backhoe or other heavy machinery.

Dion noted he doesn’t believe there are any lead pipes left in the ground, but if any are found, a lead pipe replacement project will commence.

“We’re going to use the inventory, we’ll be updating the records as we go and we’ll be using that data to create a GIS database,” Dion said, adding that much of the material in the ground is copper or plastic of varying ages. “I’m coming up on five years of working here and I haven’t seen any lead in my experience.”

Dion expects the inventory to be completed by October 2024, which falls in line with the Clean Water Trust and Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection’s grant deadline in the same month. Water suppliers will be required to make their lead service line inventories available to the public and systems serving more than 50,000 people must publish their inventories online.

In Old Deerfield, the Deerfield Fire District is also conducting its own lead pipe inventory, which is funded with an $89,869 loan. The inventory will then be used to develop a lead service line replacement prioritization list and capital improvement plan, according to a summary on the Clean Water Trust’s webpage.

Deerfield’s funding comes as the Clean Water Trust’s board of trustees awarded more than $108 million in new loans and grants at its July 12 meeting. At a previous meeting in June, the trustees also approved a $26,400 planning grant for a lead service line inventory in Turners Falls.

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The engineering firm Tata & Howard will work alongside the water district to compile data on drinking water service line materials, according to Turners Falls Water Department Superintendent Jeffrey Hildreth. He said the project, to be completed by fall, “is to solely complete the inventory for submission to [the Department of Environmental Protection] and does not include any physical service line replacements at this time.”

Since its establishment in 1989, the Clean Water Trust has loaned nearly $8.25 billion to improve and maintain water quality in Massachusetts, with an estimated 97% of residents benefiting from the financial assistance, according to the funding announcement.

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