The owner of a private water system serving 121 homes in Cheshire failed for years to notify customers about troublesome quality tests, putting infants, children, the elderly and pregnant women at risk.

The Berkshire Eagle  reports  Hutchinson Water Co. LLC also neglected to comply with an order from the state Department of Environmental Protection to remedy high levels of copper in its water by the end of 2017.

The company met a DEP deadline this week to explain how it will reduce elevated levels of copper in the system that provides water to homes in a housing development off Route 8 about 2 miles south of Cheshire center.

The DEP imposed a $5,750 fine on the company's owner, Matthew Hutchinson, but will waive all but $1,000 of that if he complies with a consent order reached in February. That order says he must install a corrosion-control system by next summer in an effort to reduce copper levels.

 

Residents first learned of the problem in late June, when flyers labeled "2018 Consumer Confidence Report" appeared hand-delivered in their mailboxes. Several interviewed last week expressed concern about both the quality of their water, as well as Hutchinson's recent move to increase their rates.

According to the state Department of Public Health, water containing high levels of copper can cause stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

Water at the development had been shown for years to exceed standards on the presence of copper. The company did not tell residents about the high levels of copper, in violation of DEP rules, it now acknowledges.