Following State Decision, Pocahontas To Stay Open
Century-old company will live on - Mass. Department of Environmental Protection determines Pocahontas Spring Water to be a public water supply system. Conditions still apply.
What may be Lynnfield's oldest business can now head into its second century in operation, several months after it appeared to be closing down for good.
Earlier this year, co-owner Donnie LeColst indicated that Pocahontas would shut down because the business could not afford upgrades required under town ordinances, such as installing a septic system and ending the discharge of wastewater from its bottling operation into the wetlands out back. Back then, he estimated that it could cost as much as $200,000 to bring the place up to code.
Since then however, the situation has changed, largely due to a decision by the Mass. Department of Environmental Protection to recognize the Pocahontas Spring as a public water supply system. As noted at Tuesday's Lynnfield Board of Health meeting, this essentially places the business under the regulatory jurisdiction of that state entity as opposed to the town.
Earlier in the week, LeColst told Lynnfield Patch that while the bottling operation is no longer at Pocahontas, the self-service and delivery options can now continue indefinitely. LeColst's family has operated the Pocahontas Spring Water company since 1961. The company was started in 1901 by John Smith, father of current Lynnfield resident John C. Smith.
In a letter dated June 5, 2012, the Department of Environmental Protection noted that LeColst had terminated bottle washing at the business after determining that the water discharge violated the state's water quality standard for pH. This was because of the caustic soda being used to clean the bottles at that point, and that part of the operation apparently stopped on March 29.
The letter also noted that Pocahontas Spring produces about 250 to 350 gallons per minute. The spring itself is protected under a small building that was constructed at least four decades ago, while the self-service station began around the late 1960s.
Under state law, a public water system "is "for the provision to the public of water for human consumption, through pipes or other constructed conveyances, if such system has at least 15 service connections or regularly services an average of at least 25 individuals daily at least 60 days of the year." Having met that standard and based on years of favorable water testing results, Pocahontas was recognized as a Transient Non-Community public water supply system - although there are still conditions the business must meet.
All of the state DEP conditions that Pocahontas must meet are listed below as they appear in the state's letter: (including a possible typo or two)
1. "Between August 15, 2012 and October 15, 2012 you will collect (1) sample of water from your spring (before the Millipore filter) for Microscopic Particulate Analysis.
2. "Between April 1, 2013 and May 30, 2013 you will collect one (1) sample of water from your spring (before the Millipore filter) for Microscopic Particulate Analysis. The samples must be analyzed by one (1) of the laboratories listed in the attachment labeled as 'Acceptable MPA Laboratories' and the results sent to the Department at the above letterhead address with ten (10) of receipt. Depending on the results additional testing may be necessary. Further the results of these tests will determine if your water source is under the influence of surface water
3. "Each month you must collect one (1) sample from vending tap and one (1) sample pre-Millipore filter for total coliform bacteria analysis. The results of the sampling shall be submitted to the MassDEP no later than the tenth day of the month following the month of collection."
4. "By September 1, 2012, install a water meter on the water line connected to the water vending taps."
5. "By July 5, 2012, obtain the services of a Massachusetts certified drinking water operator who at a minimum hold a full 1-T grade (grade 1 treatment license) and submit to MassDEP the attached form entitled 'Public Water System Certified Operation Compliance Notice.'"
6. "Immediately post the attached notice."
7. "Comply with the attached sampling schedule."
8. "Comply with the yearly Annual Statistical Reporting requirement."
Pocahontas is also required to inform the state DEP if the facility changes owners, if the land use within an 800-foot protective zone is changed, or if there is any change that can impact the quality or quantity of the public drinking water supply. Water withdrawals from Pocahontas must also stay within a state-approved pumping rate. Looking ahead, it remains to be seen how much it could cost for Pocahontas to comply with the above provisions, such as number 5.
"It looks like this ends our involvement," said Lynnfield Board of Health Director Kristin Esposito McRae at Tuesday evening's meeting.