wqrA drinking water advisory was issued on November 1, 2013 concerning manganese in our drinking water.  The notice is available as a mailing, a letter sized notice or in html below.

 Drinking Water Advisory - Important information about manganese in your drinking water

Manganese is a nutrient that is part of a healthy diet. Drinking water may naturally contain manganese and, when concentrations are greater than 50 micrograms per Liter (µg/L), the water may be discolored and taste bad. Over a lifetime, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends that people drink water with manganese levels less than 300 µg/L and over the short term, EPA recommends that people limit their consumption of water with levels over 1,000 µg/L, primarily due to concerns about possible neurological effects. Children up to 1 year of age should not be given water with manganese over 300 µg/L nor should formula for infants be made with that water for longer than 10 days.

Both of our water sources have exceeded the 300 µg/L threshold within the last year. The most recent test results show our source located on Perkins Row contains 394 µg/L of manganese; levels have varied between 150 µg/L and 370 µg/L in 2013 with an average of 313 µg/L. The most recent test result for our source located on North Street contains 94 µg/L; levels have varied between 70 µg/L and 1,270 µg/L during 2013 with an average of 391 µg/L.

What should you do? What does this mean?

  • Manganese is generally not harmful. However, infant formula should be prepared with bottled water or formula should be made with water from an alternative source with manganese levels below 300 µg/L or as low as possible.
  • Do not boil the water. Boiling, freezing, filtering or letting the water stand does not reduce the manganese levels. Excessive boiling can make the manganese more concentrated, because manganese remains behind when the water evaporates.
  • Children, one year of age or younger, should use bottled water or water from an alternate source with a manganese level below 300 µg/L. (See attached fact sheet for alternative sources of water.
  • If you have health related questions on manganese see the attached fact sheet or contact your health care provider.

What is being done? What is the next step?
Last year, the Town hired an engineering consultant to identify possible long-term solutions for this type of contamination and to prepare capital and operating cost estimates. After reviewing several options, the Board of Water Commissioners decided to pursue the construction of a centralized water treatment plant capable of reducing source water manganese concentrations to 50 µg/L or less. A warrant article was presented at Town Meeting in May 2013 that requested funding for engineering services needed to design, pilot test, permit, and bid the construction of the plant. The article was not approved. The Board plans to request funding for a second time at Town Meeting in May 2014. You will receive information about the proposed treatment plant in a separate mailing later this winter.

What has changed? Why am I receiving this notice now?
The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) has completed their review of several studies that raised concerns about health effects caused by elevated manganese levels in drinking water. Information about these concerns has appeared in our annual water quality report since 2011. Based on these studies, MassDEP has concluded that additional steps are needed to protect public health. This notice is the first step in a process that will ultimately require reductions in source water manganese levels.

MassDEP will require communities to comply with enhanced notification requirements for the next round of sampling in 2014 (Topsfield has been reporting Manganese results in its Consumer Confidence Reports). In an effort to keep our customers informed, the Town is choosing to be proactive in providing information about the sampling results as well as the important steps we are taking to identify and implement solutions.

Where can I get more information?
We will continue to monitor manganese levels and work with the MassDEP to keep you informed of all current information on this issue. Monthly manganese test results will be posted on our website (www.topsfieldpublicworks.org).

For more information on manganese please see the attached fact sheet or visit MassDEP's website. If you have any questions for our Water Department please contact Greg Krom at (978) 887-1517, or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by mail at 279 Boston Street, Topsfield, MA 01983.

Please share this information with all other people who drink this water, especially those who may not have received this notice directly (for example, people in apartments, nursing homes, schools, and businesses). You can do this by posting this notice in a public place or distributing copies by hand, mail or email.

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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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