A Meeting About Swansea's Water

"We're going to do 5 more miles right now but we're going to do 25 more miles before now and June 2020,” Swansea Water Commissioner Jim Hall said. “That's the goal."


Hall said this Tuesday night at a rare standing room-only gathering for a Swansea Selectmen meeting to debate what to do about the quality and safety of Swansea’s water. 


This is the plan to solve the issue - ice pigging to clean 25 miles of old pipes by the end of June next year. 


Hall told those gathered for the last 3 years the water commissioners in Swansea have been gathering data and information to create this solution.


"In 2018, I got my fellow commissioners to agree with me that there needed to be more done,” he said. “We started logging the calls and created a database. We were figuring out frequency and location.”


Hall explained that they needed data because it clarified that the entire system wasn’t the problem.  


“Obviously, the public was frustrated but we're certainly not in a position from a data standpoint to jump in and randomly start trying to fix the system because it didn't need fixing in its entirety."


One Swansea resident had an issue with the talk of data, statistics and numbers


"Why would anybody want to go on a website and look at 20 years of data?” Nick Correia asked All we want is clean water. That's all we want.” 


That passionate request came with a crowd of cheers and applause


“Don't tell me to look at a website or numbers that don't mean nothing to me,” he went on. “It may mean something to you but they don't mean hogwash to me.” 


Correia explained that all Swansea residents want is the assurance they’ll have clean water in their everyday lives. 


“All I want is clean water when I wake up in the morning and take a shower,” he said. “That's all I want. When my wife washes the clothes she complains to me the clothes are all yellow. Please keep your data to yourself.”


Swansea’s Town Administrator John McAuliffe said portions of his experience has been dealing with water issues but his experience is not the same as the water commissioners. 


"We stand here to provide help in any capacity but we won't step on the toes of the water department,” he said. “I won't say I can run a water department better than any better than Jeff Sutherland or Jim Hall because I can't.” 


McAuliffe reminded those gathered that the incidents that have created the problem are eternal ones.


“I was in that position, though,” he said. “It's a challenging one. There's a lot of old pipes. The most recent flare-up was an external issue. I think it’s important to know that. It was a water sprinkler testing company and hydrant testing company."


One of the Swansea Selectmen made a recommendation to the water commissioners to improve communications of the issue between them and the citizens of Swansea. 


“One of my recommendations to the commission is at the minimum to have meetings televised for the public to be able to view," Derrick Heim said.


He went on to tell those concerned should get involved when and where they can, as well.


"They should really get involved by going to the water commission meetings and individuals who want to be heard are heard at those meetings.”