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TOWNSEND — A new water mixing system installed in the storage tank at the top of Highland Street will result in cleaner water and less maintenance costs for the Townsend Water Department.

The system, costing just under $50,000, was installed in less than a week and a half earlier in May. The tank was drained, workers went inside to install the piping and the tank was refilled.

It took a year of research and planning to decide on a system, said Water Department Superintendent Paul Rafuse.

He and Water Commissioner Niles Busler went to trade shows and consulted with engineers before making a decision.

The Tideflex system they chose has no moving parts and does not use any electricity, unlike the other systems they considered.

When water flows into the million-gallon tank, it is dispersed through three outlets, mixing the water and discouraging bacteria growth.

Water is removed from the tank through the same pipe. Specially designed valves prevent the water from flowing out when it is not supposed to.

The mixing system means less work for the Water Department and cleaner water for the water takers.

“I have nothing to maintain,” Rafuse said. “It’s just pipe.”

All the parts are made of rubber and polyvinyl chloride. “No rot, no wear,” he said.

Preventing bacteria growth will lead to savings for the Water Department.

Town water supplies are tested monthly for total coliform bacteria. When it is found, a costly snowball effect occurs, Rafuse said.

The water must be disinfected with chemicals like chlorine. Then two clean samples from the source and from up and down stream must be obtained.

“Nobody likes to taste chlorine in their water,” Rafuse said.

The presence of coliform bacteria does not mean the water is unsafe to drink, he said, but could indicate a water quality problem.

The new mixing system came online at just the right time. Warming temperatures is one of the main causes of bacteria growth in tanks.

“To install this was part of our plan,” Rafuse said.

One of the reasons rates were raised a couple of years ago was to make improvements to the water system that increase the water quality, he said.

The purchase went through the town’s capital planning process last year. The selectmen deemed the expense to be an emergency so funds could be released to do the project before July 1, Rafuse said.

The town has two water tanks. The other, off Fitchburg Road, has a 500,000-gallon capacity.

The tanks are used primarily to store surplus water for the Fire Department and to create a high-pressure zone to supply water to the higher elevations in town.

The water in the tanks must be maintained at drinking-water quality.

The Tideflex system was less expensive than the other systems under consideration. It even came in a little under the initial estimate, Rafuse said.

“We get the same benefits as any of the competing systems with no cost to maintain,” he said.

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