Increased Radium Levels Found In Manchester Well

The water tower is currently being used after being renovated. (Photo by Jennifer Peacock)

MANCHESTER – Township officials are assuring area residents that their drinking water is safe, even after a round of regular state testing found elevated levels of a naturally occurring radioactive metal in one well.

The township’s eastern side had wells 8, where the elevated levels of radium was found, and 7, near Well 8, shut down after the most recent round of state testing. Radium is a naturally occurring radioactive metal found in trace amounts in rocks, soil and groundwater.

Residents will be getting a letter notifying them of this in the mail within a week.

“Manchester Township residents can rest assured that an issue regarding an elevated presence of radium, a naturally-occurring element in our geographical area, in one of our wells has been immediately resolved without concern to public health. All water in Manchester Township is and has been safe to drink,” Manchester Mayor Kenneth Palmer said in a July 25 statement.

Well 8 has tested within state limits for the last decade. However, the state testing July 10 found that Well 8’s rolling annual average exceeded what the state allows. The township immediately closed Well 8, and decided that because Well 7 was in close proximity, to close that too. The township has one year to remedy the situation, but did decide to close the wells as a precaution.

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“Please rest assured, our drinking water is safe and has been safe. Certainly, if there was an immediate concern, the State would not allow the Township to continue to use the well for one year while we fix the issue,” Palmer said. “Based on scientific studies, one person out of 10,000 would suffer health risks if they consumed two liters of water per day for a period 70 years with levels in excess of 5 PCI/L.”

Wells 7 and 8 are primarily used during the township’s peak summer season to accommodate irrigation needs.

The eastern area is serviced by six wells total for the last decade: wells 10, 11 and 12, which are deep wells that draw water from the Raritan Aquifer. These wells are located at the township’s water facility on Route 571 and supply the large majority of water year-round.

Wells 4, 7, and 8 are shallow wells that draw water from the Cohansey Aquifer. Well 4 is on Route 70 near Leisure Knoll, and wells 7 and 8 are located adjacent to each other between Holly Oaks and Renaissance.

The township also has an elevated, 1 million gallon water tower.

Township officials also wanted residents to know that their water needs will be met. The township has an emergency connection with Suez Water’s system if needed.

Photo by Jennifer Peacock

“Fortunately, over the past few years, we have made steady improvements to our aging water infrastructure. The first major step was refurbishing the elevated water storage tank last fall and creating the inter-connection with Suez,” Palmer said. “We have also been refurbishing wells and pumps throughout the town.”

The next step, the mayor said, is to construct a second elevated water storage tank and interconnection with Lakehurst. Details on those projects should be released late summer.

Palmer said anyone with concerns should visit the United States Geological Society’s frequently asked questions about radium at water.usgs.gov/nawqa/trace/radium/Ra_FAQ.html or the State of Massachusetts website at mass.gov/service-details/health-effects-of-radium-radiation-exposure.