Brown water an issue in Nashua

Special committee meeting to address issue set for Thursday

NASHUA – Some residents in the city’s North End are reporting brown water running from their faucets, so Pennichuck Water Works officials and Nashua Alderwoman Patricia Klee are on the case.

“This is something that we’ve been working on aggressively,” Pennichuck CEO Larry Goodhue said. “Colored water happens at different points in time for different reasons.”

He said Pennichuck is working very cooperatively with the property owner relative to this situation at the Clovelly Apartments. They are currently in the process of trying to diagnose what the situation is, while working directly with Klee.

Pennichuck Chief Operating Officer Don Ware said officials always flush their mains every year, trying to get the flow of water higher than the usage for the customers so they don’t experience a situation like this within the complex itself. He said when they flushed last, the water was up to the meter, with no discoloration.

“The ongoing work now is within the property, working with the property management company to diagnose contributing factors,” Goodhue said.

Goodhue said everything within their distribution system has already been diagnosed and is fine. Moreover, Klee took to Facebook on Jan. 1 and made a post highlighting her efforts to work through this issue. In that post, she said Pennichuck has done a thorough evaluation of the pipes from the street to the water meter pit, admitting that a lot of work was done back in November 2017.

“In pipes to one of the buildings, they found some severe and extensive buildup in both the pipes and the ‘tees,'” Klee said in that post. “They replaced what they found and then did some additional tests.”

More than a week ago, they were able to tell Klee that all is OK from the street to the meter pit. However, some pipes in the city are simply just old, too small or lack the proper lining, which in turn, causes some residents to find rust or manganese in their water, resulting in the brown color flowing from faucets.

Ware said in November 2017, it was determined that outside the first building, there was some unlined, cast iron pipes that were heavily clogged with rust built up over time, restricting the flow and yielding colored water. However, he said property management replaced that, although various instances have continued with customers since then.

In that Facebook post, Klee said as of now, Pennichuck has completed the inspection, and made any and all fixes. Additionally, aside from her work with Pennichuck, Klee has been working closely with various departments within the city. She went to Pennichuck first, and then opened an email dialogue with all parties involved, including the city and the property management company so everyone involved knows what is happening. She plans to continue to move forward as Clovelly’s renters advocate for getting the management company to rectify the remaining problems.

“These issue range from possible buildup in the existing 2-inch inch pipes which in themselves is a problem as they probably should be 4-inch pipes now,” Klee said in the Facebook post.

However, Klee has also experienced this problem for years, and has found that the pipes to her home are what is referred to as unlined, which makes them more prone to severe build up.

When reached for comment on the phone Friday, Klee said this has been an issue for the north end of the city for some time.

“The cost of doing this would be outrageous to the taxpayers and none of us want to pay that bill,” Klee said of replacing all the pipes. “They’re doing it as quickly and the best they possibly can.”

“Pennichuck has been extraordinarily responsive,” Klee added.

Furthermore, Goodhue said they flush their mains and know what water they are delivering to the water mains, but infrastructure on the property itself is a different story. He said if the property has a cast iron pipe, that pipe is not owned by Pennichuck, but owned by the property owner.

“If they’re not reporting to the property manager or us directly, we aren’t aware and can’t react,” Goodhue said.

Therefore, he encourages anyone experiencing this issue to call Pennichuck at the customer service line, 800-553-5191. He said customers should call as soon as they find a problem.

Ware said typically when people call with this issue Pennichuck advises them to run cold water for 10 to 15 minutes. If the color does not clear up after running the faucet, then that could be an indicator that something is going on in the distribution system.

Nonetheless, while officials work to find some sort of solution to this issue, a Substandard Living Conditions Special Committee meeting is scheduled to address the problem next week. The meeting will be 7 p.m. Thursday in the Aldermanic Chamber at City Hall. It will feature a discussion on reports of poor water quality in multi-unit apartment buildings and motels with the Public Health Department and Pennichuck representatives.

Adam Urquhart may be reached at 594-1206, or at