Quabbin & MWRA Water & Sewer

Arlington

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Dec 10, 2011
Messages
4,657
Reaction score
795
[Cambridge's is] freshwater populated by native fauna and minerals, because it's been fenced-off from being messed with by human hands since the post-Civil War era. That's what tap water is supposed to taste like from an unspoiled Eastern MA waterway. We just don't have any other non- human-shaped or non- invasive ecology reservoirs to compare it to.
The problem isn't the catch basin (the pond) it is the whole catchment area that the water is coming from, paved, salted, & fertilized.
 

davem

Senior Member
Joined
Sep 15, 2011
Messages
2,262
Reaction score
19
Didn't later tests show the untreated reserve water during the water main break wound up being cleaner than what was coming out of the Quabbin?
 

JeffDowntown

Senior Member
Joined
May 28, 2007
Messages
3,187
Reaction score
372
Didn't later tests show the untreated reserve water during the water main break wound up being cleaner than what was coming out of the Quabbin?
Not exactly cleaner, but the untreated water from the old reservoirs never violated water quality standards for drinking water. Quabbin water is also probably drinkable without treatment most of the time.
 

whighlander

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 14, 2006
Messages
7,588
Reaction score
532
Not exactly cleaner, but the untreated water from the old reservoirs never violated water quality standards for drinking water. Quabbin water is also probably drinkable without treatment most of the time.
JeffDowntown -- Quabin water was untreated and consumed in the 200M gal/day rate with no ill effects until Federal BureauKrapsy intervened

As usual with Federal meddling in what the Feds have NO CONSTITUTIONAL AUTHORITY unless someone is bottling MWRA water and trucking it to New Hampshire or putting it on an Emirates flight to Dubai

One of the first tasks of the new administration is to write an executive order enabling enough EPA standards to be ignored to allow the EPA to be bulldozed into the Potomac :p
 

Digital_Islandboy

Active Member
Joined
Apr 9, 2010
Messages
369
Reaction score
0
I've noticed the taste difference... Cambridge is now Quabbin.
--
Cambridge Begins Temporary MWRA Water Usage

10/11/2016
http://www.cambridgema.gov/Water/ne...0/cambridgebeginstemporarymwrawaterusage.aspx

The Cambridge Water Department (CWD) carefully monitors the City’s water supply system on a weekly basis to ensure an adequate supply of water is available to meet the needs of our residents, businesses, and universities. As the severity of the drought in Massachusetts continues, the usable capacity remaining in our reservoir system has been declining due to insufficient rainfall. However, Cambridge is not at risk of running out of water because in addition to our own water supply, we are a member of the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) system, which is operating at normal conditions for this time of year.

Based on the current reservoir levels and the need to maintain the operability of the water treatment plant, CWD will begin introducing MWRA water into Cambridge’s system starting Tuesday, October 11th. This approach will allow CWD to maintain enough water in our reservoirs to allow the water treatment plant to continue operating at 10 MG per week through the fall of 2017 when the current weather predictions indicate that the drought will end.[ MORE @ LINK ]
 

Randomgear

Active Member
Joined
Jul 7, 2012
Messages
346
Reaction score
18
... with no ill effects until Federal BureauKrapsy intervened

As usual with Federal meddling :p
Well Whiggy,
I remember just hot bad coffee could taste when made with the old MWRA water flavored by Canada Geese whose droppings enhanced the nature of the Watchusett Reservoir (the geese fed on landfills outside the Watchusett drainage area but squatted on the Watchusett) - it tasted like coffee filtered through a jock strap.

I'm quite glad that the EPA helped the MWRA come into the 20th century.
 

whighlander

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 14, 2006
Messages
7,588
Reaction score
532
Well Whiggy,
I remember just hot bad coffee could taste when made with the old MWRA water flavored by Canada Geese whose droppings enhanced the nature of the Watchusett Reservoir (the geese fed on landfills outside the Watchusett drainage area but squatted on the Watchusett) - it tasted like coffee filtered through a jock strap.

I'm quite glad that the EPA helped the MWRA come into the 20th century.
Randomgear -- are You sure you weren't drinking Cambridge water flavored by terriers and beagles walking around "Fresh Pond" after having been flavored by runoff from Rt-128 in Waltham

The comment about the EPA and the 20th C is a red herring -- the MWRA water was routinely tested and taste tested and it always came out near the top of big city water supplies. The Quabbin water is very clean it did tend to go down a bit when passing through the Wachusett whose watershed is not as well protected. However, the worst of the MWRA water quality problems came from leaky pipes in various dank locations.

Ah you say a leak is water flowing out -- true if its a major leak -- and its usually fairly soon visible. But in the older pipes the joints between the pipes could have just enough loss of integrity to allow water in a hole with the pipe submerged below the water table to get sucked into the pipe by the the venturi or Bernoulli Principle.

Water flowing though the pipe encounters some narrowing at the joint due to deposits accumulating over one hundred years -- the result is that to keep water from vanishing [conservation of mass] it has to speed-up in the vicinity of the joint. By speeding up it tends to locally lower the pressure and so can entrain air or potentially water from soil say frequented on the surface by packs of terriers. New methods of lining older pipes and the new ductile iron pipes being installed as new work and replacements are much tighter and much cleaner.


But the Big problem with the EPA is that the Legislation continually tinkered with by Congress is not updated to keep abreast of the changes in measurement technology. These changes can be considered revolutionary -- so that what in the 1960's when all this stuff started was considered heroic in state-of-the-art labs is now routine in field instruments which you can buy on Ebay. This causes one of those problems which Legislators -- typically Lawyers who are Math-adverse can't seem to comprehend.

As someone once said -- the solution to pollution is dilution -- which works in real life -- but not if the regulation says something such as "Thou shalt not permit any substance which causes cancer in lab animals to enter the food chain" Of course its trivial to prove that all substances which once existed [unless they decay to something totally innocuous] and once fell under the prohibition will eventually be found everywhere. As the old chemistry exercise proves -- you are very likely at this moment to have breathed some of the Oxygen Atoms which once fueled Leonardo's incredible brain.

Exercise for those interested which of the following is One Part per million, one part per billion or one part per Trillion of something else [within a factor or 2 to 3]:

a) a piece of ordinary paper next to the Millennium Tower
b) Binge watching TV for a year versus the time it takes to view a single frame of Downton Abbey
c) throwing a cup of dog urine into the Wachusett reservoir
d) Lead levels in water samples in 2/3 of the 400 plus homes tested by the MWRA

Note no higher math than 3rd grade is needed for the above
 

Randomgear

Active Member
Joined
Jul 7, 2012
Messages
346
Reaction score
18
Randomgear -- are You sure you weren't drinking Cambridge water flavored by terriers and beagles walking around "Fresh Pond" after having been flavored by runoff from Rt-128 in Waltham
Well, I moved to Boston's South End from a town in north central mass with it's own well water and it took time before I could drink the water, so yes it was MWRA water, not Cambridge. I remember seeing signs at company coffee pots telling people to use the Poland Spring water and not the tap water for coffee because it made such a difference.

But perhaps your right. If the MWRA had just acknowledged that the water tasted of landfill filtered through a seagull, then perhaps they would have fixed it on their own. Or maybe not.
 

Arlington

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Dec 10, 2011
Messages
4,657
Reaction score
795
Well, I moved to Boston's South End from a town in north central mass with it's own well water and it took time before I could drink the water, so yes it was MWRA water, not Cambridge. I remember seeing signs at company coffee pots telling people to use the Poland Spring water and not the tap water for coffee because it made such a difference.
What year? Quabbin switched from chlorine to ozonation in 2005, which is also about when the covered local storage came on line (no more goose poop). A lot of people switched to bottled water in the 1990s and never thought to taste test occasionally.

If you don't like the taste of your Quabbin tap water these days, it's likely your local pipes--though part of the 2005 change was in the pH and buffers in the water so there's less dissolved pipe in the taste these days-- but the water in the Aqueducts and local covered storage is, I'd say, basically the best municipal water in the world. And my tea-drinking international visitors (Japan, Germany) whose beverage depends on good naturally- soft water, agree. (If you want lots of minerals (hardness) such as well water has then mabye you'll be disappointed)
 

JeffDowntown

Senior Member
Joined
May 28, 2007
Messages
3,187
Reaction score
372
Boston tap water, since the ozonation and covered storage shifts, routinely taste tests as among the best water in the country, if not the world. Unless you happen to have local old lead pipes, it is also about as pure as you can get -- much cleaner than bottled water (which is surprisingly unregulated)! Buying bottled water in Boston is a huge waste of money.

http://voices.nationalgeographic.com/2014/06/18/boston-wins-annual-tap-water-taste-contest/
 

Randomgear

Active Member
Joined
Jul 7, 2012
Messages
346
Reaction score
18
What year? Quabbin switched from chlorine to ozonation in 2005, which is also about when the covered local storage came on line (no more goose poop). A lot of people switched to bottled water in the 1990s and never thought to taste test occasionally.
I moved to Boston in 1996. At some point in the later 90's MWRA water started tasting better and by, say 2005, I didn't even taste the need to filter my water anymore. I now think that MWRA water is quite fine and I don't buy bottled or even filter my water anymore.
 

Roxxma

Active Member
Joined
May 25, 2006
Messages
508
Reaction score
16
I grew up in Burlington, which has its own (and usually abundant, recent drought notwithstanding) water system, the primary source being from the Vine Brook aquifer deep beneath the Great Meadow, just north of the Burlington Mall (and under the WRKO transmission towers), with the secondary source being from the Shawsheen River-fed half billion gallon Mill Pond Reservoir at the Woburn-Burlington-Wilmington nexus, on the east side of town. When I moved into an MWRA town in about 1998, it took me at least a year to adjust to the taste of the water, but now when I go back to Burlington and drink from the tap at my parents' house, I think it tastes funny (My father swears that it changes by season, depending on whether the system is drawing from the wells, or from the reservoir).
 

whighlander

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 14, 2006
Messages
7,588
Reaction score
532
Boston tap water, since the ozonation and covered storage shifts, routinely taste tests as among the best water in the country, if not the world. Unless you happen to have local old lead pipes, it is also about as pure as you can get -- much cleaner than bottled water (which is surprisingly unregulated)! Buying bottled water in Boston is a huge waste of money.

http://voices.nationalgeographic.com/2014/06/18/boston-wins-annual-tap-water-taste-contest/
Jeffdowntown -- exactly -- Poland Springs is out in the country and quite clean -- but some of the others come from just crude filtering of crude crud tap water or worse

Not casting any direct aspersions with regard to Belmont Springs but the spring is located under the Belmont Country Club and golf courses are notorious for use of herbicides, fungicides, and insecticides

I'll drink and make my coffee and tea with Lexington's version of the water flowing from the Quabbin any day
 

JumboBuc

Senior Member
Joined
Jun 26, 2013
Messages
2,220
Reaction score
313
I've noticed the taste difference... Cambridge is now Quabbin.
--
Cambridge Begins Temporary MWRA Water Usage
I second this.

I've always lived in MWRA territory, but in September I moved from Somerville to Cambridge. I couldn't believe how much worse the water was. I typically drink a lot of straight tap water (liters each day), but at my new place in Cambridge I struggled to get the stuff down for the first month. At first I thought it was my building (because who tastes the tap water when checking out an apartment), but came to find out it was a Cambridge thing. I went as far as filling up my Nalgene at the gym every time I went as I was leaving so I would have good-tasting water for the night.

The past couple of weeks, however, the taste has gone right back to what I'm used to.
 

tysmith95

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 8, 2016
Messages
2,641
Reaction score
116
Last edited:

Joel N. Weber II

Active Member
Joined
Aug 30, 2015
Messages
603
Reaction score
8
Cambridge water

I've sometimes wondered if building a pipe from the Chestnut Hill Reservoir to Fresh Pond would have value. (It's roughly three miles as the crow flies.)

It wouldn't solve the problem of Cambridge wanting independence from the MWRA for the sake of indepenence from the MWRA, but it would provide a way to get more water to Cambridge's existing treatment plant that would reuse some existing backup water transmission infrastructure.

(And then we might get into wondering about relative costs of upgrading the capacity of Cambridge's water treatment plant vs building additional pipes from the Caroll Treatment Plant to Boston / Somerville / Belmont / etc, along with thinking about whether getting a redundant treatment plant has value.)
 

matredsoxfan

Active Member
Joined
Apr 7, 2013
Messages
337
Reaction score
0
The MWRA has recently decided instead of replacing the existing 60" WASM 3 pipeline through Waltham & Belmont shutting down roads during construction that they will instead bore a deep rock tunnel under the City of Waltham.
 

Arlington

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Dec 10, 2011
Messages
4,657
Reaction score
795
The MWRA has recently decided instead of replacing the existing 60" WASM 3 pipeline through Waltham & Belmont shutting down roads during construction that they will instead bore a deep rock tunnel under the City of Waltham.
WASM = Weston Aqueduct Supply Main, and 60" (which seems huge to me) seem to imply that this was a big deal part of the system. (and therefore not crazy to do as a deep rock tunnel might sound?)
 

matredsoxfan

Active Member
Joined
Apr 7, 2013
Messages
337
Reaction score
0
WASM = Weston Aqueduct Supply Main, and 60" (which seems huge to me) seem to imply that this was a big deal part of the system. (and therefore not crazy to do as a deep rock tunnel might sound?)
Yup, there original plan was to replace the pipe with a 72" pipe under the streets of Waltham. Problem is to do that they would need to shutdown several major roads 24/7 and it needed to be deeper than the existing pipe to fit.
 

JumboBuc

Senior Member
Joined
Jun 26, 2013
Messages
2,220
Reaction score
313
Pour one out for the drought, guys. It's officially over. According to the US Drought Monitor, there are now no parts of Massachusetts (or NH or VT or ME) that are drier than normal.

As some of the more grounded and informed members of this forum were saying last year when everyone was freaking out about this, the Northeast doesn't have the same systemic drought issues that other parts of this country have. Our droughts are acute, not chronic. We don't have to worry about our drinking water infrastructure; it is fine. No major redesigns are required.

When it comes to climate change we should worry about sea level rise, not droughts.
 
Last edited:

Top