Distinctively Nantucket, Mark Willett, Director of Wannacomet Water Company

Nantucket is recognized as having some of the best drinking water in the world. Wannacomet Water Company is dedicated to ensuring that Nantucket water remains the highest quality drinking water. We asked Mark Willett, the director of The Wannacomet Water Company to learn more about how they manage our water supply. Mark said “We have some of the best water on the planet. We had our water isotope dated. The upper aquifer is 6,000 years old, and our lower aquifer is over 14,000 years old—glacial meltwater from the last glacial period. People pay 4 to 5 bucks for bottled water. For $4.00, Wannacomet can supply you with 750 gallons of pristine untreated water from the ground to the tap, untouched by man. I tell people bottle/boxed water is but in the jugs, put on a pallet, put on a truck, and delivered across the country to all the stores.”

What is your role at Wannacomet Water?

I am the Director of Wannacomet Water. Wannacomet Water Company strives to provide high-quality drinking water, the highest level of customer and water-related support services achievable, and to educate and inform the public of the need to protect Nantucket’s water resources.

How does Nantucket measure the quality of our drinking water?

We sample our wells for over 400 different chemicals and compounds quarterly. The samples include Volatile Organic Compounds, Synthetic Organic Compounds, Heavy Metals, Radio Active Material, and bacterial sampling. The list grows every year, and we spend up to 75K a year on sampling our water. All results are submitted to MADEP and are mandatory.

What steps does Nantucket take to ensure we have the best quality water?

Nantucket has the Zone II Well Head Protection By-Law that regulates what and how properties can be used in the Well Head Protection District. This includes gas stations, mechanic shops, boatyards, and any industrial property use. Nantucket also has Storm Water regulations that help treat surface water runoff. Another big help is the Nantucket Fertilizer regulation. This limits the type of fertilizers that can be used and includes training for people that will be applying the fertilizer to ensure that over fertilizing does not happen

How will the new plastic ban affect how water is distributed?

To help with the plastic ban Wannacomet with the help of multiple Town departments, will be installing new water bottle filling stations around Town and in Sconset. The stations will be installed this spring, giving people a place to fill their reusable water bottles. We will also continue to add to our network of water fountains along the bike paths.

What is S.W.A.P. ( Source Water Assessment and Protection)?

SWAP is part of the Safe Drinking Water Act. The purpose of the program is to provide information to protect drinking water supplies from contamination. SWAP identifies land uses in the area of drinking water supplies and inventories existing and potential sources of pollution.

Do you have an updated Water Demands and Statistics for 2019?

In 2019 Wannacomet pumped 581,075,735gallons of water (over 581 million gallons of water). In July, we pumped 104.5 million gallons. Our lowest pumping month was February, and we pumped 18 million gallons. Our peak day was August 8th, and we pumped 4.2 million gallons of water in one day.

What else can you tell us about our water?

We have some of the best water on the planet. We had our water isotope dated. The upper aquifer is 6,000 years old, and our lower aquifer is over 14,000 years old—glacial meltwater from the last glacial period. People pay 4 to 5 bucks for bottled water. For $4.00, Wannacomet can supply you with 750 gallons of pristine untreated water from the ground to the tap, untouched by man. I tell people bottle/boxed water is but in the jugs, put on a pallet, put on a truck, and delivered across the country to all the stores. There it sits in a stock room or warehouse until it is put on the store shelf. This process could take 3 or 4 months and sometimes longer before you purchase that bottle of water. Go home tonight and fill a bottle of water and put it on the kitchen counter and let it sit there for 3 or 4 months. In August, pick up the bottle and drink it. That is what you are doing when you drink bottled water.

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