Indian Head officials discuss water, wastewater distribution improvements
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.