GREAT BARRINGTON — Town officials will ask Gov. Charlie Baker and the Office of the Attorney General to help solve water quality problems in Housatonic, after another summer of rusty water.

The Select Board on Monday signed off on a letter asking Baker to "ensure that water quality and infrastructure improvements can be expedited" to fix the system privately owned by Housatonic Water Works Co.

Along with water that runs yellow to brown at times, the system relies on mains too narrow to feed enough water into fire hydrants.

The letter signaled that town officials are frustrated. The state Department of Environmental Protection's Drinking Water Program recently told the board it has limited jurisdiction to deal with discolored water, since rust is considered a "nuisance" issue — not a health risk.

Also, board members said the state Department of Public Utilities has not responded to requests for help.

The problem begins in warmer months or during hydrant flushing. Rust sediment from inside the pipes is pushed into the water. A number of the company's 840 customers are afraid to drink it, or launder with it, since it stains light fabrics.

Residents have pushed local officials on the problem. Boards are keeping the issue on their agendas until a solution is in place.

The solution comes with a pricetag of $22 million, according to a 2018 study.

Around 80 percent of the water works' narrow, cast-iron mains, which date to the 1800s, need to be replaced. The company does not get public money and relies on its ratepayers. It has replaced some pipes, but to finish the job would raise rates to a degree the state DPU would not allow.

The town is considering a takeover to merge the system with Great Barrington's. The 2018 study said this is feasible, but will take years.

In the meantime, residents are losing patience.

Denise Forbes, who lives on North Plain Road, said Tuesday she still has brown water, and relies on bottled spring water for drinking.

"It's not palatable; it's not nice," she said.

Select Board member Kate Burke suggested the board also send a letter to Attorney General Maura Healey, since the matter could be treated as a consumer protection issue.

"We are not getting the follow-up we're looking for," she said, of all the attempts to find a solution with the company and the state.

Heather Bellow can be reached at or on Twitter @BE_hbellow and 413-329-6871.