Lynn has redundancy; MWRA doesn’t

May 8, 2010
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The near catastrophic problem created by the failure of a ten-foot in diameter water delivery pipe in Weston has caused nearly 2 million people served by the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority to go without clean water for almost three days and counting.

The pipe has been fixed but now follows days of rigorous testing in three dozen communities before the boil water order is removed in Greater Boston and all the MWRA communities.

Here in Lynn, life has remained normal and the water delivery system is functioning without incident, according to the Lynn Water and Sewer Commission’s chief engineer, Anthony Marino.

“We have a redundancy system in place and capable of being operated on a moment’s notice,” said Marino. “The MWRA had until 2014 to finish theirs but it looks like they could have used it a bit earlier,” he added.

Marino said engineers must have believed it is such a new pipe that they had time to wait for the back-up delivery system to be installed.

Marino said there are three main possible reasons the MWRA delivery pipe suffered a crack that led to 250 million gallons of treated water gushing into the Charles River – and causing the boil order to be placed on all water flowing through the MWRA system as a result.

“It could have been a shift in the ground where the pipe was laid. It might have been a pipe manufactured incorrectly. It could also have been an improper installation,” Marino said.

“Those are the likely main culprits,” he added.

He said the MWRA main was under tremendous pressure.

“That main was moving 8 million gallons of treated water an hour. Lynn’s system moves 11 million gallons of treated water in a day,” he pointed out.

Marino said the Lynn water system was originally designed to provide adequate water resources for fighting fires in the city. He said that was the driving force.

In regards to Lynn, our forefathers put in place this water system independent – originally designed for fire prevention – the driving force.

He referred to Lynn’s system as a jewel – and the problems with the MWRA system proves it.

“They found the problem, isolated it and now they’ve fixed it,” he said of the MWRA.

“The next step is testing – switching back to the regular water supply but within the system each community will have to go through rigorous testing,” he said.

He said Lynn has a tried and true secondary system of water delivery.

“If we ever had a catastrophic failure in our primary delivery system, the secondary system would take care of business nicely,” he said.

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