SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The Springfield Water and Sewer Commission is notifying residents of high levels of haloacetic acids (HAA5) in the city’s drinking water.

The samples that were taken on March 3 exceeded the standard or maximum contaminant level established by drinking water regulations for haloacetic acids (HAA5) at 8 sample locations and for total trihalomethanes (TTHM) at 4 sample locations.

The level for HAA5 standard or maximum contaminate level of 60 parts per billion (ppb) and for TTHM it is 80 ppb established by the MassDEP.

The averages for HAA5 at the 8 locations were 79, 90, 89, 87, 91, 89, 94 and 91 ppb and the averages for TTHM at the 4 locations were 85, 83, 82, and 85 ppb.

This is not an emergency and residents may continue consuming and using their water as normal. The next sampling will be conducted in June 2022.

HAA5 & TTHM are disinfection byproducts that form when dissolved natural organic matter present in water interacts with chlorine, which is used to disinfect the water from pathogens, according to a statement sent to 22News from the Agawam Water Department.

Some people who drink water containing an exceeded amount of HAA5 over many years (decades or lifetime) may have an increased risk of getting cancer.

Some people who drink water containing an exceeded amount of TTHM over many years may experience liver, kidneys, or central nervous system problems, as well as an increased risk of getting cancer.

The Springfield Water and Sewer Commission is working on a $238 million upgrade to the West Parish Filters Water Treatment Plant to reduce the disinfection byproducts, it is expected to be complete by 2027. The following information was provided by Katherine Shea at the Springfield Water and Sewer Commission.

New West Parish Filters Water Treatment Plant

West Parish Filters Water Treatment Plant in Westfield, MA in 1909 (left) and 2022 (right). Courtesy: Springfield Water and Sewer Commission
  • West Parish Filters Water Treatment Plant was constructed in 1909 and last modernized in 1974.
  • Regulations related to DBPs were first adopted in 1998 and revised in 2012.
  • The West Parish Filters Facility Improvements Plan, initiated in 2015, was completed in 2021 and determined a multi-phase approach to replace aging infrastructure and address regulatory compliance for disinfection byproducts.  

Underway: Planning, Design, and Phase 1 Construction

  • Design of the new treatment plant and DAF facility is currently underway and on schedule.
  • Phase 1 construction of some initial treatment plant improvements, including the new Clearwell and Backwash Pump Station, got underway in 2021. The Clearwell and Backwash Pump Station project is expected to be complete by 2023.

Upcoming: Design Approval and Construction

  • Final designs of the new treatment plant must be approved by MassDEP before construction can begin. 
  • Construction of the new treatment plant and DAF facility is anticipated to start in 2024 at an estimated cost of $238 million.

Strategic Financing and Accelerated Project Schedule

  • In 2021 the Commission secured a highly competitive $250 million low-interest loan from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) Program to help finance the treatment plant upgrades and other critical capital projects.
  • The WIFIA Program’s unique and flexible terms will allow most of the West Parish Filters Water Treatment Plant construction to occur simultaneously over the next six years, accelerating critical upgrades, and saving ratepayers approximately $60 million in borrowing costs.

Design and construction of a new treatment plant that will meet system needs to improve water quality, maintain regulatory compliance, and ensure reliability for the next several decades is a lengthy and complex process. Until the new treatment plant comes online the Commission expects there will continue to be exceedances of the MCL for DBPs, especially as the region experiences more extreme weather patterns. Customers will receive notification anytime there is an exceedance.