All Tri-Town water safe to drink as Fairhaven removes boil order

Oct 23, 2021

MATTAPOISETT — The Town of Fairhaven notified residents on Oct. 23 that the town’s water was once again safe to drink after more than two weeks on a boil water order. The news also affects parts of Mattapoisett that are serviced by Fairhaven’s water network.

Despite the water now being safe to drink, water officials recommended that residents run their taps to flush out any contaminated water still left in the pipes from before the order was lifted. That includes appliances connected to water lines, such as fridges. Devices with filters should have their filters replaced.

Fairhaven was the last of the four towns serviced by the Mattapoisett River Valley Water District to have its boil order lifted.

The boil water order was originally implemented in the Tri-Town and Fairhaven on Oct. 6, after E. coli was discovered in water in all four towns of the Mattapoisett River Valley Water District.

Mattapoisett was the first of those communities to be freed from the boil water order on Oct. 15, after recording three consecutive clean E. coli and coliform tests in the preceding days.

Marion and Rochester had to wait a few days longer to allow chlorination to reach the outer extremities of the system, as total coliform was still showing up in samples taken from those towns on Oct. 14. Their boil order was lifted on Oct. 19.

While Fairhaven, Marion, Mattapoisett and Rochester water is all treated at the same facility, valves and separate lines cut off flows in some spots. That creates closed systems in Fairhaven, which services some Mattapoisett residents; Marion, which services some Rochester residents; and Mattapoisett.

Because the source of chlorine is located in Mattapoisett, it took longer for the chemical to reach the extremities of the Marion distribution system.

Fairhaven’s system operates on a completely different set of pipes.

Water officials believe the source of the E. coli was a Tinkham Lane well that caused a separate boil order in Fairhaven in September and was subsequently taken offline.

Upon further investigation, the well was found to have a breach in its well casing about eight feet below the surface. The breach has since been repaired, according to water officials.

It is not yet clear how the bacteria stayed in the water systems of the four towns for over a month after the well was taken offline.