Dagsboro seeking answers to fluctuating chlorine levels

DAGSBORO – Fluctuating chlorine levels in town of Dagsboro water that on occasion have hit rock bottom have town leaders searching for the source and the solution.

Dagsboro receives its water through a December 2002 agreement with the town of Millsboro. Water is pumped throughout both systems and when demand is met it fills storage tanks, according to Millsboro town staff.

Dagsboro officials reported abnormally low chlorine readings, notably back in early June. It was a hot topic at the July 17 town council meeting.

Town of Dagsboro’s water tower near the old Dagsboro fire station on Waples Street.

“We are still trying to figure out why there are different levels,” said Dagsboro Town Administrator Cindi Brought.

According to Millsboro Town Manager Sheldon Hudson, the problem is not on Millsboro’s side of the fence – or valve.

Millsboro’s obligations “relative to water quality stop on the town side of the valve vault; basically that connects the two towns,” Mr. Hudson said.  “Basically, anything that passes through that vault so to speak the town of Dagsboro would assume responsibility for. So, that includes things like chlorine and things of that nature.”

“There was a chlorine line break that started this whole thing,” said Dagsboro Town Administrator Cindi Brought at the July 17 meeting. “We started seeing problems June 9. That (break) didn’t happen until June 12. My question to Sheldon (Hudson) at that point was, ‘Why was it below normal level before it broke?’ That’s a good question.”

Ms. Brought said chlorine level comparison to last year shows that “every month they were average (in 2016). There was nothing low, like this.”

Ms. Brought said water was tested at the “interconnect meter several times when this all started. So, it was coming out zero. I said, ‘Shouldn’t we have quality water at that interconnection?’”

“The challenge of course is when you add chlorine the further you get from where the chlorine is added to the water the more the residual decrease is,” said Mr. Hudson. “In Dagsboro, obviously you are going to have a lower level than you would have in Millsboro. The bottom line is everything within Millsboro’s system continues to test fine.”

In a July 28 update, Ms. Brought said the chlorine level did improve since the meeting. “But it’s fluctuating a lot. It will go down to the .0-whatever and then when they checked the interconnect meter this week it was up to .61, which is way good.”

Kyle Gulbronson of AECOM, Dagsboro’s consultant firm, said he consulted with water engineers. “What happens this time of the year when the water temperature gets very warm, it sits in the tank in the tower, the chlorine dissipates over time,” he said.

There has been discussion about Dagsboro investing in a chlorine injector pump at its water storage tower located near the former Dagsboro fire station on Waples Street.

Before the town goes to that expense Mr. Gulbronson said the recommendation is to do a quick analysis. “Look at how much water we use every day, how long that water sits in the tower,” he said. “They can do a math equation to figure out how quickly the chlorine will dissipate or evaporate over that period of time.”

A chlorine injector pump would boost the chlorine level in Dagsboro’s system, according to Millsboro town staff.

Ms. Brought said she is hearing between $15,000 and $20,000 for that injection system.

According to Ms. Brought, Mr. Gulbronson contacted Millsboro and told them Dagsboro needs “more information on what is going on, because if you want us to put the chlorine injection system in, which is what they keep telling us, we need a lot more information.”

“Of course, if we do that (chlorine injection) then someone is going to have to monitor that, too,” said Ms. Brought.

Mr. Gulbronson said other solutions might be to drain the tower periodically or reduce the water level in the tower so there isn’t so much water sitting there for an extended period of time. “That’s cheaper,” he said.

Ms. Bought said after fire hydrants in Dagsboro were opened, the chlorine level went up.

“That whole week the numbers stayed up,” said Ms. Brought. “We need to do something. The biggest concern is we do state testing once a month and Artesian the last two times it came out to .02. and with the heat in the water at this point – the temperature was 86, he got it down to 80 – that’s when your bacteria grow. That’s a concern.”

Town council asked Mr. Gulbronson to come up with testing solutions and cost.

“I don’t want any grass to grow under this,” said Dagsboro councilman William Chandler. “I want us to be on this right now.”

Under the water agreement, Dagsboro pays the town of Millsboro monthly based on usage, Ms. Brought said.

“We’ve had a good relationship with Dagsboro. Hopefully this won’t be a point of contention moving forward with them,” said Mr. Hudson. “Just to restate: Everything within Millsboro’s system continues to check out favorably.”

“Another solution that was brought up and mentioned was hooking into Frankford,” said Ms. Brought. “Who knows if that is even a possibility?”

News Editor Glenn Rolfe can be reached at grolfe@newszap.com

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