How do I detect a water leak in my buildings drinking water system by reading the water meter?
All the water meters in the Town of West Springfield record the amount of water in cubic feet. One cubic foot of water equals 7.48 gallons of water. The water meter has a set of dials, similar to the odometer of a car, which rotates as the water passes through the meter, whether the water is used or lost due to a leak. Most meters are located in the basement. There are two ways the Town reads the meter: it is either read directly by a person or by a unique radio signal that the meter sends out to a computer. Currently, the Town is working on standardizing to meters that send out a radio signal which can be read by a computer inside a car that is driving down the street.
If a customer wants to check their usage, they can simply shine a flashlight on the face of the meter (the flashlight “activates” the “odometer” of a digital meter) and read the register for themselves. Checking your reading can be done as often as they want. To determine a daily usage - subtract yesterday’s reading from today’s reading, giving you the number of cubic feet that have passed through the meter.
The billing is done in hundreds of cubic feet which is abbreviated as HCF or CCF. If you have 1 unit on your bill, this translates to 748 gallons of water used. One revolution of the sweep hand represents one cubic foot used, and the first moving number will increase by one.
Many meters have a small red triangle located on the meter which is a leak indicator. To determine if you have a leak after your meter, turn off all the water in your home. If the triangle is moving, water is going through the meter, which indicates that although you have all of your faucets turned off, water is leaking out somewhere.
Customers are encouraged to monitor the water meter readings on a regular basis. To determine if there is a possible leak, write down the meter reading before going to bed at night or before leaving for the day.
Do not run a dishwasher, laundry or sprinkler line or flush the toilet during the test period. Write down the new reading the next morning or when you get back from your day out and subtract the prior reading. If there has been any change, you probably have a leak, most likely the toilet.
Toilet leaks usually run undetected for quite some time before the homeowner hears or sees the water entering or leaving the toilet bowl. Put some coloring or test tablets in the tank and then wait to see if any color appears in the bowl. If it does, the flapper valve needs to be replaced.
According to the American Water Works Association, a leaking toilet can waste as much as 27 cubic feet = 0.27 CCF = 202 gallons per day which at our current water cost of $2.25/HCF would cost $0.6075/day or about $55.00 over a three month period.
Please see attached pages for more information on the digital meters. Note not all customers have digital meters.
Please contact our office if you have any additional questions regarding your water meter readings.
How do I cope with brownish red color water and / or remove that color from my laundry?
When you notice this issue do not use bleach with white clothing it will make your laundry a brownish red color. If this does happen - do not dry it. First you will need to wash with a product like "Red-b-Gone" from a hardware store or where ever it is sold and follow the directions.
The above only is for cold water, if your hot water is rusty call a Registered Master Plumber you may have a failing hot water tank.
Our system can experience the brownish red color due to the interaction between the minerals in the water, the chlorine (which is an oxidizer) that we use to keep the water sanitized and our unlined cast iron water mains. This interaction will cause the occasional issue with "rusty" looking water and it is not a health issue but an aesthetic issue. Usually, "Rusty" water occurs when a fire hydrant is used for firefighting, hydrant flushing, water for construction work / machines like sweepers, paving equipment and sewer vacuum trucks; or in the worst case a water main break.
The only solution is to replace the Town's unlined cast iron pipes with lined water mains or plastic water mains to prevent this problem, over 30% of the Town's water system has unlined cast iron pipes which are very costly to replace or rehabilitate.
How does lead enter the drinking water?
The most common way that lead enters drinking water is through the corrosion of lead or galvanized iron plumbing. Across the country, lead and galvanized iron was a common material used for plumbing in many older homes. In a large percentage of these older homes, lead plumbing can be found in the service line, either in the utility portion of the service line from the main to the curb stop or the customer portion of the service line from the curb stop to the interior piping. However, lead can also be found beyond the service line in the interior house piping, lead solder, and brass or chrome-plated brass faucets. Though galvanized steel and copper became more popular as plumbing pipe materials in the 1960s, lead piping and solder were not federally banned until 1986 and faucets could contain up to 8 percent lead until 1996.
Who owns the service lines that carry drinking water from the water main to my home?
In West Springfield, the Town is responsible for the service lines from the water main to the curb stop. The homeowner owns the service lines from the curb stop to the interior plumbing. The Town owns the meter, usually found in the customer's basement.
Who owns the service lines that carry drinking water from the water main to a business, industrial or commercial residents?
In West Springfield, the owner of the property or business is responsible for the service lines from the water main into the building. The Town owns the meter, usually found in the customer's basement. New facilities provide the meter per town specifications.
Is the Town of West Springfield in compliance with applicable drinking water standards for lead?
Yes. The Town of West Springfield has been in full compliance with the EPA’s “Lead and Copper Rule” since 1991. The Town of West Springfield routinely tests ( every three years) for lead in drinking water, and you can view the latest lead testing results on your Consumer Confidence Report (CCR).
How can I find out if my tap water is safe to drink?
Over 90 percent of water systems meet EPA’s standards for tap water quality. The best source of specific information about your drinking water is your water supplier. Community water suppliers (that serve the same people year-round) are required to send their customers an annual Consumer Confidence Report (CCR). Your Town of West Springfield CCR is posted here on our website. For additional information, call the Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 1-800-426-4791; visit EPA’s websites on local drinking water.
How will I know if my water isn’t safe to drink?
Your water supplier must notify you by newspaper, mail, radio, TV, or hand-delivery if your water doesn’t meet EPA or state standards or if there is a waterborne disease emergency. The notice will describe any precautions you need to take, such as boiling your water. Follow the advice From the Town if you ever receive such a notice. The most common drinking water emergency is contamination by disease-causing germs. Boiling your water for one minute will kill these germs. You can also use common household bleach or iodine to disinfect your drinking water at home in an emergency, such as a flood (ask for the DEP Disinfection of a Well Water Supply Fact Sheet for specific directions on how to disinfect your drinking water).
What’s this new drinking water report that I’ve heard about?
Water suppliers must deliver to their customers’ annual Consumer Confidence Reports (CCRs). These reports will tell consumers what contaminants have been detected in their drinking water, how these detection levels compare to drinking water standards, and where their water comes from. The reports must be provided annually before July 1, and, in most cases, are mailed directly to customers’ homes. Contact your water supplier to get a copy of your report, or see if your report is posted online.
How can I get my water tested?
If your home is served by a community water system, get a copy of your annual CCR before you test your water. This report will tell you what contaminants have been found in your drinking water and at what level. After you’ve read this report, you may wish to test for specific contaminants (such as lead) that can vary from house to house, or any other contaminant you’re concerned about. You may call the DEP to get a list of certified laboratories in Massachusetts.
I don’t like the taste/smell/appearance of my tap water. What’s wrong with it?
Even when water meets EPA’s standards, you may still object to its taste, smell, or appearance. Common complaints about water aesthetics include temporary cloudiness (typically caused by air bubbles) or chlorine taste that can be improved by letting the water stand exposed to the air.
What if I have a severely compromised immune system?
Some people may be more vulnerable to contaminants in drinking water than the general population. People with severely compromised immune systems, such as people with cancer undergoing chemotherapy, people who have undergone organ transplants, people with HIV/AIDS or other immune system disorders, some elderly, and infants can be particularly at risk from infections. These people should seek advice about drinking water from their healthcare providers. EPA/Centers for Disease Control guidelines on appropriate means to lessen the risk of infection from Cryptosporidium and other microbial contaminants offer more detailed advice.
What should I do if I own a drinking water well?
If you have a well, you are responsible for making sure that your water is safe to drink. Private wells should be tested annually for nitrate and coliform bacteria to detect contamination problems early. Test more frequently and for other contaminants, such as radon or pesticides, if you suspect a problem. More information is available on EPA’s page for private well-owners. You can help protect your water supply by carefully managing activities near the water source.
What about bottled water?
Bottled water is not necessarily safer than your tap water. EPA sets standards for tap water provided by public water systems; the Food and Drug Administration sets bottled water standards based on EPA’s tap water standards. Bottled water and tap water are both safe to drink if they meet these standards, although people with severely compromised immune systems and children may have special needs. Some bottled water is treated more than tap water, while some are treated less or not treated at all. Bottled water costs much more than tap water on a per gallon basis. Bottled water is valuable in emergency situations (such as floods and earthquakes), and high quality bottled water may be a desirable option for people with weakened immune systems. Consumers who choose to purchase bottled water should carefully read its label to understand what they are buying, whether it is a better taste or a certain method of treatment.
What about home water treatment units?
Most people do not need to treat their drinking water at home to make it safe. A home water treatment unit can improve water’s taste, or provide an extra margin of safety for people more vulnerable to the effects of waterborne illness (people with severely compromised immune systems and children may have special needs). Consumers who choose to purchase a home water treatment unit should carefully read its product information to understand what they are buying, whether it is a better taste or a certain method of treatment. Be certain to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for operation and maintenance, especially changing the filter on a regular basis. No single unit takes out every kind of drinking water contaminant; you must decide which type best meets your needs.
Where does my drinking water come from?
Drinking water can come from either ground-water sources (via wells) or surface water sources such as rivers, lakes, and streams. Approximately 99% of West Springfield’s population is served by a well located in Southwick 1% is from Springfield Water and Sewer Commission which is a surface water system.
How can I help to protect my drinking water?
Drinking water protection is a community-wide effort, beginning with protecting the source of your water, and including education, and funding, and conservation. The DEP is responsible for developing and implementing the Source Water Assessment Program or SWAP for short. The goal of the SWAP is to assess the susceptibility of MA’s drinking water sources to potential contamination. The SWAP is also now engaged in source water assessments, to work with communities to identify local sources of contamination. You can contact the SWAP for more information or log on to the DEP website.
I’m worried about a specific drinking water contaminant (lead, Cryptosporidium, nitrate, radon, etc.) What should I know?
Drinking water, including bottled water, may reasonably be expected to contain at least small amounts of some contaminants. As long as they occur below EPA’s standards, they don’t pose a significant threat to health, although people with severely compromised immune systems and children may have special needs. For more information about a specific contaminant, see EPA’s fact sheets on drinking water contaminants.]