Tisbury says water is safe

Town says it's working with Montessori School to figure out the problem.

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Tisbury officials have reassured the public that the water supply is safe. — Rich Saltzberg

In a statement sent out Friday, the town of Tisbury sought to assure its inhabitants that town water is safe. The statement comes after above-average lead and copper results were found in Vineyard Montessori drinking water. The school has since gone on bottled water, and has remained on it for months: “We would like to assure the public that the Tisbury water supply is safe, compliant with state lead and copper standards, and is not the source of the lead. Massachusetts DEP sets a testing schedule and requires the water department to sample 30 homes for lead according to the schedule. Many of these samples come back as non-detect for lead, but some come back with a slightly elevated lead level due to corrosion in household plumbing. Sampling results are published in the annual water quality report issued by Tisbury Water Works, and can be found on the water department website.”

The town went on to state the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) data supports the town’s stance on safeness, and on results taken in the vicinity of the Vineyard Montessori School. 

“The MassDEP Drinking Water Program chief has stated that the multiple non-detect readings from the routine sampling indicate that lead is not present in the town water supply. To further demonstrate that the town water supply does not contain lead, Tisbury Water Works recently collected two samples from the hydrant located at the corner of Tashmoo Avenue and Main Street. Results reported one sample showing a low level of lead (.0015 mg/L), which would be from contact with lead in the hydrant. Fire hydrants are allowed by statute to contain lead, as they are not a potable water source. The other sample came back as non-detect for lead, once again indicating that there is not lead in the Tisbury water supply.”

The town stated the water problem is still being explored at the Montessori School, and contamination may have been afoot in an earlier test.

“Although the source of lead is not the town water, we are working with the Montessori School to help pinpoint the source on their property. The most recent sample, taken after excavating and cutting the service line on school property, came back at an extremely high level that could be attributed to contamination while cutting the line. As recommended by the water department consultants, the school has installed a sampling tap where the water service enters the school. The installation of the tap will allow for testing of water from the same supply line as the previous sample, without excavation, thereby reducing the risk of contaminating the sample. The school has ordered sample bottles, and the water line will be tested once the bottles are received. If the water sample from that service line comes back elevated, it will confirm there is a problem with that line, and the school should have it replaced.”

The town pointed to service lines as the primary culprit in lead-contaminated water: “Lead in drinking water is primarily from materials and components associated with service lines on private property and home plumbing. Tisbury Water Works is responsible for providing high-quality drinking water, but cannot control the variety of materials used in plumbing components. If you are concerned about lead in your water, you may wish to have it tested. Information on testing methods, and steps you can take to minimize exposure, is available from the EPA Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 800-426-4791, or from their website, bit.ly/EPAsafewaterinfo.”