In­dian Head of­fi­cials dis­cuss wa­ter, wastew­a­ter dis­tri­bu­tion im­prove­ments

Maryland Independent - - Community Forum - By TIF­FANY WAT­SON twat­son@somd­news.com

As the na­tional ex­po­sure of ma­jor wa­ter sup­ply is­sues in Flint, Mich., con­tin­ues, the Town of In­dian Head res­i­dents re­ceived an up­date about their own wa­ter and wastew­a­ter dis­tri­bu­tion sys­tem on Mon­day.

At the In­dian Head Town Meet­ing on April 4, David El­der, su­per­in­ten­dent of wa­ter and wastew­a­ter oper­a­tions in the town, briefed the town coun­cil and res­i­dents about the state of town’s wa­ter dis­tri­bu­tion and wastew­a­ter man­age­ment sys­tem.

El­der is tasked with pro­vid­ing the res­i­dents’ drink­ing wa­ter as well as tak­ing their wastew­a­ter and dis­charg­ing it back into Mat­ta­woman Creek. At the town meet­ing, he in­formed res­i­dents that based on the town’s last set of lead and cop­per sam­ples col­lected from June 2014 to Septem­ber 2014, there are no lead and cop­per is­sues at this time and the town’s num­bers ex­ceed or meet the federal and state re­quire­ments.

“The Town meets or ex­ceeds all of the En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency and Mary­land De­part­ment of the En­vi­ron­ment’s units and ac­tu­ally ex­ceed it so much that we’ve been able to re­duce the amount of mon­i­tor­ing that is re­quired. Part of that is be­cause we add hypochlo­ride, that is our method of dis­in­fec­tion for the town’s drink­ing wa­ter be­cause that mixes with or­ganic ma­te­ri­als that can cause dis­in­fec­tion byprod­ucts,” El­der said. “The only is­sues we do have is that we are still fight­ing an in­flow and in­fil­tra­tion prob­lem in the town, es­pe­cially dur­ing rain events, so that has be­come chal­leng­ing. Though, even with the ex­cess flow we still fall well within our lim­its al­lowed by MDE.”

“Af­ter the news re­gard­ing wa­ter qual­ity crisis in Flint, Mich., last year, we must all be very con­cerned about wa­ter qual­ity,” said Vice-Mayor Ron Si­toula. “For­tu­nately, we have been told that the last of the lead pipes in our wa­ter sys­tem was re­placed back in 2014. Based on the ex­pert anal­y­sis and tests con­ducted, the re­sults do show that we have a safe drink­ing wa­ter in the Town of In­dian Head. How­ever, we need to be con­sis­tently vig­i­lant and per­form timely tests within fre­quency rec­om­mended by the reg­u­la­tory bod­ies with enough sam­ples to give us the re­quired con­fi­dence to our town res­i­dents.”

Some con­cerns for lo­cal res­i­dents were toi­lets rusting, the cost of each col­lect- ed sam­ples that are used to test for cer­tain chem­i­cals in the wa­ter and how of­ten the sam­ples are taken from the town’s wa­ter sup­ply.

“It costs $400 to have a sam­ple of the town’s wa­ter tested but I think with the height­ened sense of lead, we should prob­a­bly col­lect it yearly,” Coun­cil­man Cur­tis Smith said. “For me, as a res­i­dent, I would pay the $400 my­self to know that we have cleaner wa­ter rather than wait­ing an ex­tra year to find out there may be some­thing wrong.”

El­der said that as part of the sam­pling, the town only col­lects from the Tier 1 sites, which are deemed the most prob­a­ble ar­eas where lead or cop­per could be a con­cern. Those par­tic­u­lar houses are built af­ter 1982 and a ma­jor­ity of the houses that co­in­cide with that time­frame re­ceived a let­ter signed by Town Man­ager Ryan Hicks, about con­duct­ing a sam­ple test.

“The town is re­quired to sam­ple for bac­te­ri­o­log­i­cal con­tam­i­nants on a monthly ba­sis. The lead and cop­per test is re­quired ev­ery three years but if any­one feels it is nec­es­sary, we can col­lect it yearly. If we want to mon­i­tor it more quickly then we can select from one of the many sites that meet the top part of Tier 1 and we don’t have to col­lect all of the sam­ples that would be manda­tory,” El­der said.

Hicks said that the town re­ceives in­flated wa­ter lev­els when there is heavy rain and that has caused some ma­jor in­flow and in­fil­tra­tion is­sues with the town’s wa­ter dis­tri­bu­tion sys­tem.

“In the end, it all comes back to money. If we do the in­flow and in­fil­tra­tion study and test­ing, I think we’re go­ing to have to break the town up into sec­tions of fours and hit a sec­tion at a time be­cause I be­lieve we have in­flow and in­fil­tra­tion is­sues not just in one gen­eral lo­ca­tion but I be­lieve we have a small sam­pling of [those] is­sues all over the town,” Hicks said.

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