Frequently Asked Questions about Harwich Water

Monomoy Lens Acquifer  |  Monomoy Lens Protection  |  Water Testing  |  Hard and Soft Water  |  Lead and Copper

Is Harwich Water Hard or Soft?

Harwich water is soft, with 15-20mg of sodium.

What is Harwich’s Water Pressure?

The water pressure is generally between 65 and 70 psi.

What is Harwich Water tested for?

Maximum contaminant levels (MCLs), and Maximum Residual Disinfectant Levels (MRDLs) in the State of Massachusetts have been established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  These drinking water standards apply to all public water systems in the state - systems serving drinking water to at least 25 individuals (or 15 service connections) at least 60 days of the year.  Summary of MA Drinking Water Program Testing Requirements for Public Water Systems.

How will I know if there are water restrictions?

There are permanent Drought Action Level Response signs around Town that will be updated with actional level.  Our website will also be updated, Chanel 18, the Town website and advertisment in the local paper are all avenues that are used to notify our customers of water restrictions. 

During the warmer months of the year, Harwich Water Department use increases by about fifty percent. This places a strain on the wells to pump enough water to meet everyone's needs. The Harwich Water Department has a By-Law that limits outdoor water usage. The purpose of this is to make the best use of limited water and ensure that everyone has an opportunity to use outdoor water when really needed. Without limits on outdoor water use, the demand would likely deplete water supplies to a dangerously low level, and the Department would be faced with banning all outdoor water usage. 

Am I connected to Town Water?

Most residents in Harwich (95 percent) receive their water from the Harwich Water Department, which has eleven wells located in various parts of town. These eleven wells draw water from the ground, or groundwater, and pump it to treatment plants, and then on to homes, businesses, and even your schools.  If you are not sure, contact our office at 508-432-0304.

Where does Harwich drinking water come from?

Groundwater from the second largest acquifer on Cape Cod, known as the Monomoy Lens.  The Monomoy Lens is located beneath the towns of Dennis, Harwich, Brewster, Chatham, Orleans and a section of Yarmouth. It is approximately 300 feet thick, and is the source of drinking water to homes and businesses that are served by 49 municipal public water; supply and private wells.  Learn More  

What is groundwater?

Groundwater comes from rain and snow that soaks into the ground, passing between particles of soil, sand, gravel or rock until it reaches a depth where the ground is filled, or saturated, with water. The area that is filled with water is called the saturated zone and the top of this zone is called the water table. The water table may be very near the ground surface or it may be hundreds of feet deep. Groundwater is stored in the ground in materials like gravel or sand. You can think of the earth as a big sponge holding lots of water. An area that holds a lot of water, which can be pumped up with a well, is called an aquifer.

How does the water get to my house?

Water is pumped from the wells into large underground pipes that run all over town, bringing water to where it is needed. Special smaller pipes branch off the larger pipes and run up to your house, providing you with water at just the turn of a spigot.

Is my drinking water clean?

When drinking water is pumped from each well it has small amounts of impurities in it from coming in contact with rock, dirt, vegetation and the effects of human activity. The water from all of the Harwich wells is treated before it is delivered to your home.

Is my drinking water safe?

The Harwich Water Department fully complies with the Safe Drinking Water Act. The Department treats all of its water in order to meet state and federal requirements for public drinking water. Water is treated for corrosion control, disinfection, removal of volatile organic chemicals and to sequester iron and manganese. In addition, the Department regularly tests its water for over one hundred different contaminants. If the level of a contaminant is above a town, state, or federal health standard, then the Department will notify the public and take corrective action immediately.

What is in my drinking water?

All drinking water, including bottled water, usually contains small amounts of some impurities. Ground water can dissolve naturally occurring minerals, such as nitrate, from the earth's crust. Ground water can also pick up substances that are a result of human and animal activity, such as Coliform. However, the presence of an impurity in your drinking water does not necessarily indicate that the water poses a health risk. Harwich Water fully complies with all monitoring and reporting requirements of the Safe Drinking Water Act, and your drinking water meets all Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) health standards. For more details on the quality of your drinking water, see the Harwich Water Department's most recent Annual Water Quality Report.

Why is my water discolored sometimes?

If your water is discolored, there are several possible reasons depending on the coloration:

Has a brown stain developed on the inside of your dishwasher?

Iron and manganese are very common minerals found in New England ground water. While posing no health threat, they can be an aesthetic problem, such as causing stains on your dishwasher. Harwich Water adds polyphosphates to its water to sequester iron and manganese. The chemical bond that is formed between the two is broken quickly by high temperature. The higher the temperature, the more likely that iron and manganese will precipitate out and deposit on the surface of dishwashers or china. To avoid this problem, don't use "hot air dry cycle" and use lower temperature water.

Are there blue or green stains on your fixtures?

Copper causes these stains. Copper can be naturally present in the ground water, and copper can leach into the water from copper pipes. Initially, copper pipes may leach a small amount of copper in the first year of use, after which concentrations will decrease. However, if the water is corrosive, the pipes may continue to release copper into the drinking water. The Water Department adds potassium hydroxide to its water to reduce its corrosively and keep the levels of copper at a minimum. In addition, the Department is looking to use a polyphosphate in their water treatment; this additive can also help reduce the level of copper in the water. 

Do you sometimes see pink residue or stains?

Each year, a few customers call about pink stains or residues that occasionally develop in moist areas in their homes. They generally observe this in toilet bowls, around sink and tub drains, on shower curtains or other shower surfaces, and even in pet water dishes. The customer naturally wants to know if there is something wrong with the water supply.

A pink residue is not a problem with the water supply and is not harmful in this situation. It is evidence of bacteria that are common inhabitants of our environment. The most typical of these bacteria is one known as Serratia marcescens. These bacteria come from any number of naturally occurring sources, such as soil, mulch, dust, and surface waters, and they thrive in an environment that is moist and high in phosphates. For instance, a pink stain or film often appears during or after construction or remodeling, when dirt and dust containing Serratia are disturbed. More people indicate the problem occurs in the summer months when temperatures and humidity are higher, and especially if windows are kept open for any length of time.

Serratia will not survive in chlorinated drinking water. However, where water stands long enough for the residual chlorine disinfectant to dissipate, such as a toilet in a guest bathroom, or on a shower curtain, the pink color may develop. Customers who remove the chlorine from their water by use of an activated carbon filter may also be more likely to experience the problem.

Cleaning the area with a product that contains bleach or other disinfectant can help to eliminate the issue.