Dear Parents, Staff, and Community Members,
As you may recall on 7/21/2023 I notified the community of a PFAS level compliance issue with well #2 servicing NSMS and NSHS. To recap:
We have taken initial steps for the start of school and filed the following information to the Rhode Island Department of Health:
The main component of the plan to bring the water that is provided to the consumers into compliance is to limit the volume of water well 2 is contributing to the public water system. Currently, as it is summer and the demand for water is minimal, well 2 has been placed offline. On August 17th, NWSI will be installing a new control box that will place well 2 on a timer, limiting the volume of water from well 2 going into the storage tank via time the pump is allowed to operate.
The new control box will be located within the locked pump house. The settings of this control box will only be accessible by someone with extensive programming knowledge. This will ensure that no one can walk in and “turn a knob” to adjust the run time of well 2. The actual settings relating to the amount of time the well will be running will be calculated on August 17th. A certified operator will be on site with the control specialist to first calculate the flow rate for each well and use those measurements to determine the length of time well 2 will run before cycling off during system call outs for water. When the system calls for water again this process will repeat with well 2 only running for a set amount of time. Well 1 will continuously run to meet the demands of the public water system each time the system calls for water.
Following the installation of the control box, the system will be sampling the entry point quarterly along with the wells to ensure that the system remains within compliance and is providing safe drinking water to its consumers.
We cannot fully shut down Well #2 because Well #1 does not have the capacity on its own to service the schools, but by changing the rates from which we draw between Well #1 and Well #2, favoring Well #1, PFAS levels will significantly be lowered at all points of use throughout the middle and high schools.
Additionally, several years ago we began installing in our schools water bottle-filling stations that contain filters certified for Lead, Chlorine Taste & Odor and Class 1 Particulate reduction. We have been notified by the manufacturer that within the next two months new filters will be available that include PFAS filtration.
Finally, we must emphasize that the water is safe to drink even at the original 21 ppt, and we are lowering it even further. RIDOH is not telling us to shut down Well #2. RIDOH is not saying our drinking water is contaminated, it just needs to be remediated.
Since Well #2 was identified as 1 of 10 public water sources in the state exceeding 20 ppt and requiring remediation, funds will be available to assist. We have been assured by the RIDOH of a federal grant expected in October which names North Smithfield Schools as eligible for upwards to $650,000 for PFAS remediation in Well #2.
Thank you for your understanding as we work through this process and will continue to keep you updated.
Michael St. Jean
Michael St. Jean,