Board of Health

Announcements

2017 FLU CLINIC CANCELLED

We are very sorry to say that Shutesbury’s annual flu clinic has been cancelled for this year.

In 2016, no longer able to meet state requirements for vaccine storage, we “outsourced” the flu clinic to the Greenfield Health Department. We have only just recently learned, however, that Greenfield does not yet have the ability to bill Medicare. Because they cannot be reimbursed, they will not vaccinate anyone over 65, even those who have secondary insurance.

We are not willing to hold a flu clinic from which some members of our community are excluded, especially since seniors make up a large proportion of those who are vaccinated each year in Shutesbury.

The Board of Health deeply regrets having to cancel the clinic. It is a community event as well as a chance to exercise our ability to set up an Emergency Dispensing Site for use in a public-health emergency.

We apologize for the inconvenience and encourage those who would have come to seek vaccination from their doctor or a retail pharmacy.

 

Information on the well water at Town Hall

At a meeting on March 29, which was attended by two members of the Board of Selectmen, the Board of Health reviewed the results of water tests of samples taken from the the Town Hall kitchen and wellhouse as well as samples analyzed in 2006 and 1996.  The current samples show – surprise! – high sodium; though there is not a limit, the guideline maximum is 20 mg/L.  In addition, chloride, sediment, and total dissolved solids exceed DEP drinking water standards.  As a result of these exceedances, the faucets in the kitchen and the three restrooms in Town Hall have been posted.  A second bottled water source has been provided in the kitchen for easy access to drinking water on the lower level.

In practice, this changes very little.  The water was already known to be only marginally drinkable, and the town has been providing bottled water for drinking for many years now.  The kitchen, contrary to what some may think, has not been licensed by the Board of Health for the preparation of food from scratch for at least the last twenty-five years, so this does not change the status of the kitchen.  (The kitchen may be used by those working or meeting in Town Hall for refrigeration, reheating, and dishwashing.)  Posting the water in Town Hall merely formalizes what has been common knowledge for a long time.

That said, the results that we have seen do not suggest that the water is dangerous if drunk occasionally.  There is no bacterial contamination that would make a person sick, and no evidence of contamination from septic systems.  An extensive scan of volatile organic compounds indicates no cause for concern.

In the opinion of the Board of Health and our agents, the most likely source of the sodium, chloride, sediment, and dissolved solids in the water is road salt infiltrating the well through some deterioration or break in the well casing.  We have not seen high levels of these parameters in other wells in the area about which we have information, suggesting that the problem is in our well itself.

The big question is what to do next.  The three options are: do nothing and continue to rely on bottled water; attempt to rehabilitate the existing well; and drill a new well.  In our opinion, it is not appropriate for the Board of Health to decide among these options.  The costs, the benefits, and the risks of each course of action must be considered.  We are turning our problem over to a higher power.   For the moment, that higher power is the Board of Selectmen, who will consider this question at their meeting of April 4. 

 In this context, the question of further testing is on hold.  The tests that were envisioned were a first-draw lead test, to determine if there are problems with the plumbing, and a test for PCBs, which was to be done at the same time as PCB scans of water from the Fire Station and Highway Department (bundling them saves money).  If the Town makes the decision to try to repair the well, these tests will of course be necessary.

 

Click here for flyer describing the Housing Rehabilitation Loan Program

 

Useful information

Are you a septic system installer or pumper?  Click here for information

Please email the Board of Health for application forms.

 

Building permit applications

What you need to get Board of Health approval

 

Septic systems

How they work, how to get one, how to take care of it

 

Drinking water wells

Information about drinking water wells, the text of Shutesbury's well regulation, and a well permit application

Outdoor woodburning boilers

Full text of a regulation governing these heating devices, which was adopted in 2010.  

Lyme disease

Information about the disease, how to avoid it, and how to deal with ticks.

 

Minutes 

2017 
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2016 and earlier

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