Water

Several customers have received letters promoting water line repair insurance from a company called HomeServe.  The insurance is supposed to cover the cost of the repair or replacement of the water line running from the meter to your home.  A quick web search can locate many articles involving HomeServe.  Some are quite skeptical of the firm yet other articles discuss how cities and towns entered into a partnership to provide the coverage to residents.  One article claimed the city was receiving a percentage of the premiums collected.  No such partnership or arrangement has been made in Topsfield.

The company's mailing states homeowners are responsible for repairing any leaks or replacing lines located on their property, which is true.  A valve, called a curb stop, is installed at the boundary between Town property and private property.  If the leak is before or at the valve then the Town repairs it.  If the leak is after the valve then the homeowner is responsible for the repair.

At the root of this is the question of whether the insurance is needed or not.  Typically less than a half dozen service leaks are found in Topsfield each year including both private and public leaks.  Our system has 1,800 service connections so leaks occur infrequency.  Ultimately the decision to purchase needs to be made by the homeowner and we recommend researching it thouroughly beforehand.

One of the common questions we receive is "How does my water use compare to the average home?".  Answering the question is not easy because volumes used by single family homes can vary over a wide range and depend on the number of occupants, water use habits, irrigation habits, etc. We analyzed the monthly water use records for the past 5 years for 1,582 single family home connected to our water system. The following table displays the results and attempts to give an idea of how water is used in the Town.

   Single Family Home

 Monthly Water Use in Average Gallons Per Day

 Percentile  Jan Feb  Mar  Apr May Jun July Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Maximum   1,049  1,450  3,633 2,522 3,565 4,470 7,979 5,686 7,787 3,503 1,644 1,894
95%  269  256  259  306 383 640 630 526 413 315 271 265
80% 185 177 175 199 240 302 287 246 220 203 190 187
Median 128 121 123 137 149 169 164 148 141 134 130 131
20% 81 76 76 88 97 104 101 94 89 87 83 84
5% 45 40 37 49 54 56 54 47 49 49 45 48

Subcategories

The Board of Water Commissioners was created in the 1940s when the Town decided to create a water supply.  At Town Meeting in May 2020, the Town voted to eliminate a number of elected boards and consolidate operations under the Town Administrator.  This required approval of the Massachusetts Legislature and Governor which was finalized in January 2021.  This section is still active for archival purposes.

The Water Department bills for water usage and other fees based on rates set by the Board of Water Commissioners. A rate hearing is usually held in the spring and is advertised in local papers. Click here for a listing of our current rates and charges. The revenue generated funds the Department's activities and capital improvements. We operate on an enterprise accounting system that keeps our funds completely separate from other Town departments.

Welcome to our cross connection section. These connections are a specific class of connections to the distribution system that pose or could pose a health risk. Some of the more common cross connections in Topsfield include:

  • Filling a swimming pool with a garden hose while the end of the hose is below the flood rim of the pool.
  • Certain types of fire suppression systems.
  • Chemical mixing tanks.
  • Certain types of heating, ventilation and cooling systems.

Cross connections are pathways that could introduce contamination to the water distribution system under certain hydraulic conditions. We are required by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection to run a Cross Connection Control Program to make sure these connections are properly protected by a backflow prevention device or eliminated. Some devices require annual or semi-annual testing based on the degree of hazard and we are required to make sure tests are done according to MassDEP's schedule.

We are happy to announce that hydrant flushing will be reduced on once per year.  This reduction from semi-annual flushing is due to the water treatment plant.  We have yet to detect any manganese in the water leaving the plant and water quality in the distribution system has greatly improved.

Flushing will be done each spring.  Typically flushing is done Monday - Thursday and takes approximately 6 weeks.  The flushing schedule is available online at https://www.topsfieldpublicworks.org/apps/flushing/.

The Water Management Act gives the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection the authority to regulate ground water and surface water withdrawals in excess of 0.100 million gallons per day (MGD). The Water Management Act was enacted during the 1980's and there were quite a few water suppliers that fell under the new regulations. The regulations created what is refered to as a "registration" volume which is the amount of water historically withdrawn by the supplier at the time DEP's regulation took affect. Some suppliers have filed for water management permits to allow withdrawals in excess of the registration volume. The Town of Topsfield currently has a registration volume of 0.430 MGD and a permitted volume of 0.170 MGD.

PFAS are a broad group of manmade chemicals used for a wide variety of purposes. Used since the 1950s, these compounds are in fire-fighting foams, clothing, flame retardants, food packaging, water proofing materials, and carpeting to name a few. These compounds, of which there are reportedly thousands, are structurally and chemically different from each other but share certain properties such as very strong carbon-fluoride bonds that make them very durable in that they do not readily breakdown in the environment, are not affected by natural biological processes, and can persist for years.

Some of these compounds were first detected in our water during the fall of 2019. Further tests conducted in 2020 have confirmed the presence of these chemicals in varying amounts. We now test for 18 of these compounds on a monthly basis. For detailed testing results please visit our water quality site at  https://www.topsfieldpublicworks.org/apps/watertesting/.

MassDEP promulgated new regulations concerning PFAS which took effect in October 2020. 

This section contains information about the Water Department finances.

This section of the site contains information about the Water Department Budget.  Descriptions of various sections and actual budgets will be posted.

COVID Update:

The Water & Highway Offices remain open but may switch to appointment only or close to the public in the coming weeks depending on infection rates.

Water Department staff will visit your site for emergencies such as broken pipes, no water, low water pressure, etc. Site visits for other reasons will be evaluated on a case by case basis.

PFAS Articles

Pay your water bill online

81009 83017 0Please visit the Unibank site to pay your water or tax bills online.

 
 

Water Department

279 Boston Street

Topsfield, MA 01983

978.887.1517

978.887.1543 (Fax)

911 -  After Hours Emergency

Hours: Monday-Friday 7 AM to 3:30 PM

Highway Department

279 Boston Street

Topsfield, MA 01983

978.887.1542

978.887.1543 (Fax)

Hours: Monday-Friday 7 AM to 3 PM