Hyde School Arsenic Project

The following article is from The Norwich Bulletin.

For years now, Gary Giambattista has been looking forward to a drink of water.

The facilities director of The Hyde School in Woodstock is expecting to realize that dream later this week, when the school's new water treatment plant is finally up and running.

"This is going from a Model T to a Corvette," Giambattista said of the upgrade from the existing system, built in 1955, to the new, state-of-the-art system.

The project began in December 2007, when the Enviromental Protection Agency changed its standards for drinking water purity, or specifically, the maximum levels of arsenic permitted per billion parts of water.

GiambattistaBecause of a naturally occurring arsenic in the bedrock near the school, the existing level of the contaminant is 22 parts per billion in the well water, but the 2007 standards reduced the allowable levels to 10 parts per billion, Giambattista said.

No one's gotten sick.

He acknowledges that the water violates the federal standard, but said it has not made anyone sick or put anyone at the school at risk.

The school conducted research for two years before beginning the project in April, working with Victor Nigro Jr., Vice President of Aqua Pump Co., Inc., based in Stafford Springs.

Three-stage process.

The new treatment plant consists of three main parts: water enters through a pump from two undergound wells and is chlorinated. From there, it travels through two 300-gallon treatment tanks, where the arsenic is removed.

Purified water is then transported to a 20,000 gallon storage tank, where it is kept until needed. The system finsihes with a booster pump system that continually checks and maintains water pressure based upon usage and demand, Nigro said.

The cost of the project is slightly more than $500,000, Giambattista said.

He said the new system will remove all arsenic from the water, so the schools fountains will actually supersede the federal requirements. He said there will a noted taste difference.

More efficient.

Lower-flow showerheads have been installed at the school, Giambattista said. The new system will be more energy-efficient and save on electricity and even use less water, but the overall cost to produce the water will slightly increase.

Heather Cavalli, of Woodstock, the schools director of college counseling, said she has never thought the school's water tasted bad, but is looking forward to trying out the new system's product.

"It's nice to know that there's the technology around to make what we give our kids as safe as possible," she said.

©2010 Norwich Bulletin. Some rights reserved.

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