Borough Council considers steep water abuse fines

SUSSEX BOROUGH. Extreme use of the system is increasing sediment and water discoloration.

| 01 Aug 2022 | 02:38

Sussex Borough Mayor Ed Meyer on July 28 suggested fines of up to $5,000 for continued abuse of the borough’s water system.

The borough had been dealing with brown water complaints coming after organizations have run an excess of water from hydrants on the borough’s system.

“This is a very serious issue that impacts every one of us,” Meyer said. “We cannot have people taking advantage of our water system. And this costs us quite a bit of money for us to remediate it, and it is just not something we need in our system.”

The latest and largest incident was on July 18; spikes caused distribution of system flow rates to increase from 150,000 gallons per day to in excess of 1.2 million gallons per day, the fastest flow recordable. There were 10 spikes over a 90-minute period, which caused extreme scouring of the distribution piping.

The borough found the cause of the spikes, which Meyer identified as Clove Hill Manor.

“It seems that the people who were doing the flushing thought that Clove Hill Manor had notified the town and it seems like Clove Hill Manor thought the same of the people doing the flushing,” Meyer said.

Meyer also recommended meetings with individuals or organizations that have been causing the water disturbances to explain proper procedures going forward.

“We will be setting those meetings up and sending out letters to make certain that this does not occur again,” Meyer said.

Beyond that, John Perry, who manages the borough’s water plant, said the plant is running well and continues to remain in compliance. He said it also has no violations on Drinking Water Watch. He said the plant has always been in compliance and has never had any deviations as far as water quality was concerned.

“These are things that are beyond our control sometimes and we’d like to get a handle on it,” Perry said. “We need to get better communication with outside agencies that do use the fire hydrants to try and bring this under control.”

Perry said there has been a lot of sediment buildup in the Colesville Reservoir over the years and dredging the reservoir has been discussed.

“Unfortunately, every time it rains you get a high rain flow going in, it will stir up the water that’s in the Colesville Reservoir,” Perry said.

Planning Board Chairman Rich Klein said a $1,000 starting fine was too low.

“I think some people would agree that it should be $10,000,” he said. “Somebody should be held accountable for what they did.”