Local Government and Politics, News

West Peabody’s drinking water is stinky but safe

PEABODY — Test results show the drinking water from Winona Pond is safe, even if the odor isn’t quite reminiscent of a refreshing mountain stream.

In fact, the odor could more accurately be described as “wet dog,” according to Diane Doucette Ladue, Gina Segel Goodwin, and others who have been among the West Peabody residents dealing with the malodorous drinking water for the past several weeks.

“It started out slightly ‘earthy’ about two weeks ago, now it’s more like wet dog,” said Midge Pierce.

The good news is that tests by local and state officials have shown that the water is safe to drink, even if it is unpleasant to smell.

“Water specialists from the state’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), have confirmed our initial finding that the odor is the result of naturally occurring algae bloom on Winona Pond, which is a prominent source of Peabody’s water supply in the western part of the city,” Mayor Edward A. Bettencourt Jr. stated.

Over the past several weeks, the mayor said DEP drinking water experts have reviewed the city’s internal water test results for the past several weeks.

“According to the DEP, these test results have met and continue to meet the strongest state and federal requirements for our drinking water,” said Bettencourt. “To provide further assurance to our residents, the DEP and I authorized an an additional battery of tests to be conducted at an independent certified laboratory in Indiana. The analysis tested for cyanotoxins and bacteria that can lead to health issues.”

The results, delivered to the mayor Wednesday and reviewed by DEP and local water specialists, tested negative for those elements.

“Therefore, I can once again assure Peabody residents that our water meets the strongest state and federal standards for drinking, cooking, bathing, and all other uses,” said Bettencourt.

Although the water is safe, that doesn’t mean everyone is ready to dive in headfirst.

“My hot water is like a mix between rotten eggs and fish,” said Antonio DeNardo. “I’m almost to the point of buying a water filtration system. It’s terrible. The city needs to do something.”

The mayor said he understands the concern.

“Both as mayor and as a father of four—including an infant son, I share your concerns and frustration,” Bettencourt wrote in a statement on the city’s website. “I am experiencing this smell in my home and although I have noticed improvement in the last few days, the smelly water is a nuisance that comes at the end of what has been a very long and difficult New England winter.”

To help get rid of the odor, the city’s water technicians executed a system-wide flush designed to cycle out the smelly water. In addition, Bettencourt said the city has approved a more aggressive treatment program to eliminate the smell quickly and safely.

Pina Daniel said the information from the mayor helped allay some concerns.

“The smell is annoying and gross, but when I put it all in perspective, there are worse things that could happen and we are fortunate to have running water,” Daniel said.

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