Public should have been told about Lawrence water



February, 2009

In March and August of 2008, the City of Lawrence did not perform the states’ required monthly chlorite testing on the city’s drinking water.

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection fined the city of Lawrence $5,750 for failing to do those mandated chlorite tests and has warned the city it will face a $25,000 a day fine for any further infractions.

Chlorite testing must be done every month as water is drawn into Lawrence’s new, $26 Million water treatment facility so that engineers can treat the water with the correct level of chemicals, ensuring that the water is safe for bathing, drinking and other necessities.

In a memo to other city officials, DPW Director Frank McCann reveals for the first time that for eight days in August last year, the chlorite testing machinery was broken. For those eight days the mandated chlorite tests could not be done yet the people of Lawrence knew nothing about it.

McCann blames the private company charged with maintaining the chlorite testing system for failing to fix the machinery during those eight days and says he believes it is unfair for the city to be fined for the failure of this private company to do their job.

Assuming that McCann’s claims are true, as the DPW director he had a duty to warn residents and businesses not to consume the Lawrence water since neither he nor anyone else had a clue as to whether or not the water was safe to drink during eight days in August.

DPW Director Frank McCann owes the public an explanation. 

Moreover, he and other city officials ought  to be held accountable for the debacle currently going on at the facility.