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The home for VPR's coverage of health and health industry issues affecting the state of Vermont.

Boil Water Warning Lifted In Addison, Bridport And Shoreham

Officials lifted a boil water notice Friday morning for the towns of Addison, Bridport and Shoreham. The Tri-Town water system's 1,600 customers were advised to boil their water on Monday, Dec. 19 after three separate incidents led officials to believe the system may have been contaminated by groundwater.

Original Story, Dec. 20, 2016: Darwin Pratt, the chairman of the board at Tri-Town, says the incidents included two leaks and an outage. The first leak happened late last Thursday for unknown reasons. 

“Then, the following day there was an accident down in Addison, at that point we lost our power at the plant and we had a malfunction down there, so consequently ... all of our panels and stuff were fried," he said Tuesday. "So we did have the fire department down there for that."

“Then yesterday, we also had a leak on 22A," Pratt said.

The incidents appear unconnected. Officials at Tri-Town say it is still unknown what caused the two leaks.

Information about the water issues was brought to the attention of VPR by James Ehlers, the executive Director of Lake Champlain International, a non-profit aimed at protecting the health of Lake Champlain’s waters. 

Tri-Town officials say they contacted local media about the leak on Sunday. 

Ellen Parr Doering, the deputy director of the Drinking Water and Groundwater Protection Division at the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation, says the department found out about the outages by word of mouth on Monday morning. By late Monday afternoon, the state requested the precautionary boil warning be issued.

“It is our expectation, and we say in our operating permits, if you have to use emergency sources of water and that kind of thing that people let us know that within 24 hours,” Parr Doering said. 

It is still unclear whether Tri-Town made any legal violations, according to officials at the Department of Environmental Conservation.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, officials will conduct water tests for possible contamination. They will be looking for the presence of  fecal coliform and E. coli. Test results have not been returned as of Tuesday afternoon.

Parr Doering said while it is hard to say how common contamination is in these situations, it is “fairly common.”

“We do know [Tri-Town] has chlorine residual throughout the distribution system that will disinfect the water, which is critical” she said. “When you lose water, even a little in the pipes, you can suck in contamination from around the piping. That’s the basis of why we requested them to issue the boil water notice in the first place.”

She continued: “The vulnerability is dramatically increased; it may not be an issue, but we want to be sure it isn’t."

Parr Doering recommends that people who may experience symptoms due to their drinking water to see a medical practitioner immediately.  

Tri-Town expects customers will be on boil notice until early Friday morning.

Update 11:45 a.m. Dec. 23, 2016 This story was updated to include that the notice had been lifted.

Update 3:40 p.m. Dec. 20, 2016 This story was update to include comments from the state Department of Environmental Conservation. 

This information was brought to the attention of VPR by James Ehlers, the executive Director of Lake Champlain International, a non-profit aimed at protecting the health of Lake Champlain’s waters. 


Rebecca Sananes was VPR's Upper Valley Reporter. Before joining the VPR Newsroom, she was the Graduate Fellow at WBUR and a researcher on a Frontline documentary.
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