The notice from the , which, among other things, advised customers to open their windows to ventilate their bathrooms when using the shower to avoid airborne exposure to a water contaminant, was the tipping point.
Vasile, a nurse-practitioner, was among the residents who organized a citizens' meeting on water concerns Thursday. The idea, she said, was sparked when she and her friends realized many other town residents were throwing away these notices, or not getting them at all.
The notices only go to the Water Company customers. If tenants don't pay the water bill, they won't get the notices.
The information meeting on water issues organized by Vasile and Colleen Annantuonio, among others, drew about 100 people to the Milford Youth Center.
The idea wasn't to scare people, but to make sure they are aware that the , and has had them for almost a year, Vasile said. And while the Water Company has notified its customers, she noted, the letters always come "after the fact."
The contaminant — Total Trihalomethanes (TTHMs) — is produced when drinking water is disinfected. TTHMs form when disinfectants, such as chlorine, combine with leaves and other organic materials that are found in surface waters. Milford water has allowed for a year, based on Water Company records.
The information session included comments from Bill Buckley, a Milford Selectman who addressed issues relating to town oversight of the private utility company, as well as David Condrey, the general manager of the Water Company. Richard Arikian, president of SteadyPure, a water filtration company, provided an analysis of Milford Water Company water.
Although it is a private company, the Milford Water Company is regulated by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, which oversees public drinking water. The state DEP was invited to the meeting, but did not send a representative.
In questions, one of the first was directed at Buckley, by a resident who asked whether the town was moving in a direction to take over the private utility company. Buckley said the town could pursue a purchase of the company — using an eminent domain-type process — through a state statute. The process would have to include a committee that could investigate the feasibility of a purchase.
"It's a lengthy process," Buckley said. "But it's not one I'm against."
Milford resident Joel Kahn said acquisition of the Water Company, "would achieve true transparency with that company, which we currently do not have."
Condrey responded to concerns, expressed by another resident, that there is no "Plan C" to remove the TTHMs if the "Plan B" — — doesn't work. Condrey said the first of two carbon filters, which will remove the natural materials that contribute to TTHMs, will be installed by late October.
By 2013, the Water Company plans to have a new treatment facility operating.
The "Plan C," Condrey explained, is to introduce another treatment chemical, which he identified as chloromines. The company, however, is trying not to change the chemicals dramatically. "It's a change in chemicals. We're trying not to change any more chemicals."
Arikian, who owns a water filtration company, reviewed the Milford water reports and analyzed the results. He also addressed whether filters mounted on faucets or shower heads could remove the contaminant.
The faucet-mounted filters, such as Brita, he said, can remove some contaminants, including TTHMs, depending on what the product label says. But showerhead filters cannot remove them. TTHMs can be absorbed through the skin, as well as inhaled, through steam, he said.
"There is no shower filter made in the United States that takes out TTHMs," Arikian said.