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Scituate issues drinking water advisory for residents

Scituate is warning residents that its drinking water may be unsafe for infants, based on elevated levels of manganese, officials said on Tuesday.

The warning comes after a water sample on July 26 yielded manganese levels of 0.330 milligrams per liter — more than the 0.3 mg/L recommended by Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection — according to a statement from the Scituate Water Division.

Because of the elevated levels, town officials advise residents to use alternative water sources, such as bottled water, preparing baby formula or food for infants.

The general public may continue to drink tap water, the statement said, as town officials expect to remedy the situation “before long-term exposures occur,” the statement said.

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Officials said they would be distributing bottled water to residents at the water department located at 4 Old Oaken Bucket Road.

The statement did not say when manganese levels were expected to return to normal.

Manganese is an important nutrient for humans, but excess exposure may cause adverse neurological effects, according to MassDEP. Infants are particularly susceptible to these effects due to their developing neurological and gastrointestinal systems, which absorb more manganese than adults and older children do.

The high manganese levels are caused by the town’s aging surface water treatment plant, officials said.

“Raw water manganese concentrations have increased significantly this summer in Old Oaken Bucket Pond,” the statement said. “[The pond] is the feed to our [surface water treatment plant], which was never designed to remove manganese.”

The town approved $50 million for a new water treatment plant in May. The plant is currently in the design phase, according to the statement, and its location is expected to be discussed at a town meeting on Sept. 19.


Camilo Fonseca can be reached at camilo.fonseca@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @fonseca_esq.