NEWBURYPORT — Mayor Donna Holaday and Water Treatment Superintendent Thomas Cusick announce mandatory water restrictions on non-essential water uses following the emergence of an algae bloom on the Upper and Lower Artichoke Reservoirs.
The Upper and Lower Artichoke Reservoirs, the primary sources of drinking water for the City of Newburyport and portions of Newbury and West Newbury, are experiencing a cyanobacterial harmful algal bloom (CyanoHAB). These organisms are capable of producing a number of toxins that may pose a risk to human and animal health.
The Newburyport Department of Public Services — Water Division conducted sampling of the water at the reservoirs which have indicated that toxins are not currently present in the raw or treated drinking water.
Residents may continue to use the water for drinking, making infant formula, for ice, brushing teeth and preparing foods. Boiling water is not necessary.
Water may also continue to be used for bathing, washing hands, washing dishes, flushing toilets, cleaning and doing laundry and watering plants and gardens.
“Our water division is working closely with MassDEP to monitor this situation and address this algae bloom, and in the meantime, we thank residents for their cooperation as we undergo this temporary, non-essential water use restriction,” Mayor Holaday said. “Testing has confirmed that the water remains safe for drinking and other essential uses.”
The City is adjusting its treatment operations to control the algae bloom as quickly as possible and working closely with the MassDEP to evaluate and minimize any potentially adverse effects. Cyanobacteria can grow rapidly when certain environmental conditions are favorable for their growth, such as elevated temperatures combined with excess nutrients. To control the algae, the Water Division has:
- Increased monitoring and testing of the reservoirs
- Residents will continue to be updated regularly
- Treatment options at the reservoirs and water treatment plant are currently being evaluated, and no water quality changes have been identified at the plant.
- A mandatory, non-essential water use restriction has been implemented.
- Signs have been posted in the area around the Upper and Lower Artichoke Reservoirs warning people about the bloom and sharing safety precautions.
City Bans Non-Essential Water Uses
The Water Division is implementing mandatory water restrictions on non-essential water uses until further notice. Non-essential water uses prohibited under the ban include:
- All outdoor watering
- Filling of swimming pools
- Use of automatic sprinklers
- Watering of City parks
- Non-essential flushing of fire hydrants
- Other water conservation measures as may be directed by the Board of Water Commissioners as necessary
The irrigation of gardens, flowers and ornamental plants by means of a hand-held hose (no open-ended hoses, hoses must have a spray nozzle that will shut off) or drip irrigation systems may be used between 6 a.m.-9 a.m. only while the mandatory non-essential water use restrictions remain in place.
The penalties for violating these restrictions shall be $50 for the first violation and $100 for each subsequent violation.
The Water Department may implement more stringent restrictions if needed.
Signage at the Upper and Lower Artichoke Reservoirs
The raw water at the Lower and Upper Artichoke Reservoirs is unsafe for humans and pets, and signage has been posted at the reservoirs for:
- No swimming
- No fishing
- Keep animals away. Keep dogs on leash on watershed land and do not let your pets enter the reservoirs. Contact a veterinarian if pets or livestock show signs of illness
- Rinse after contact
For more information, contact the Water/ Sewer Business Office at 978-465-4420. Office hours are 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM Monday to Friday.
For more information on cyanobacteria and cyanotoxins, visit the MassDEP website at https://www.mass.gov/guides/cyanobacterial-harmful-algal-blooms-cyanohabs-water