Manganese Information

This portion of the website contains information concerning manganese contamination of our source water.

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NOTE: Manganese results are now being posted on our water testing website -  The site includes all of our test results and information about which water sources are in use.


We test our sources for total manganese on a monthly basis.  The results of these tests will be posted on this page as they become available.  All results are shown in micrograms per Liter unless otherwise noted.  The value shown is the average for the month if multiple samples were taken.

Please review the public notice that was sent to our customers in November 2013 to see how these levels compare to guidance from MassDEP.  Manganese levels typically decline as water moves futher away from the sources because it precipitates out of solution and coats the pipe walls.  Although system levels are normally low (<300 micrograms per Liter) this level can easily be exceeded when sediment in water mains and home plumbing lines is disturbed.  

A system map (14 MB) showing the test sites and water mains is available to help customers determine which sampling sites are closest to their homes.

Manganese is a naturally occuring mineral found in rocks, soil, groundwater and surface water.  Manganese is necessary for proper nutrition and is part of a healthy diet, but can have undesirable effects on certain sensitive populations at elevated concentrations.  The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and MassDEP have set and aesthetics-based Secondary Contaminant Level (SMCL) for manganese at 50 micrograms per liter (ug/L), or 50 parts per billion (ppb), and health advisory levels.  In addition, EPA and MassDEP have also established public health advisory levels.

Drinking water may naturally have manganese and, when concentrations are greather than 50 ug/L, the water may be discolored and tase bad.  Over a lifetime, EPA recommends that people drink water with manganese levels less than 300 mg/L an over the short term, EPA recommends that people limit their consumption of water with levels over 1000 ug/L, primarily due to concerns about potential neurological effects.  Children up to 1 year of age should not be given water with manganese concentrations over 300 ug/L, nor should formula for infants be made with that water for longer than 10 days.

Residential water filters, including sediment and activated carbon filters, may remove some of the manganese in our water but can't remove all of it.  They may infact remove very litte.  The reason is a large portion of the manganese can be dissolved in the water (particles less than 0.45 microns in size) or too small for a typical sediment filter to trap (particles less than 10 microns in size).  This is why the Town plans to construct a greensand filter system.  

A greensand filter is able to trap the larger particles and chemically react with the remaining manganese, drawing it out of the water through adsorption.  Greensand filters are not typically found in a residential settings because the manganese trapped in the filter media periodically needs to be removed by backwashing or regeneration with chlorine and/or potassium permanganate.  

Manganese testing at our Perkins Row source indicates the water produced by this station now exceeds MassDEP's limit of 300 parts per billion.  A Manganese Drinkng Water Advisory was implemented in December 2013 due to high manganese levels that had occurred in years past.  

Perkins Row produces about 20% of the Town's water and the North Street source is well below the state manganese limit.  However we can't both sources pump into the system and it is not possible to predict manganese concentrations at each home due varying hydraulic conditions.  Therefore, use bottled water to make baby formula and for young children.  We plan to use Perkins Row as little as possible to until manganese levels fall comfortably below the state limit but we also need to balance withdrawals between our two sources due to the drought.

Results from another round of tests taken last week are expected shortly.

Hydrant Flushing Completed

Hydrant flushing was completed in early November.  The next round will start in April 2020.

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Water Department

279 Boston Street

Topsfield, MA 01983


978.887.1543 (Fax)

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Highway Department

279 Boston Street

Topsfield, MA 01983


978.887.1543 (Fax)

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