The Sussex Borough Council on August 16 declined to an introduce an ordinance that would levy fines for water abuse in the borough. The measure failed 5-1, with only Councilman Frank Dykstra voting to go forward with it.
Sussex Borough Mayor Edward Meyer had previously suggested fines of up to $5,000 for continued abuse of the borough’s water system after a series of unannounced hydrant flushes allegedly resulted in complaints from residents of brown water.
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, according to the Council.
Council President Robert Holowach, who ran the meeting in Meyer’s absence, said in his nine years of being on the council, this issue had never come up.
“I’m struggling with this,” Holowach said. “I think it was just for optics and I’m not about doing things for optics. I don’t think it has any teeth.”
Councilman Charles Fronheiser said he’s lived in the borough almost 30 years and he never had a problem with brown water.
“I’ve never had a problem with hydrant flushing,” he said. “It’s all of a sudden this year.”
In a separate discussion, the Council approved an additional appropriation of $125,000 to improve the borough’s water supply and distribution system, and authorized the issuance of bonds to finance the appropriation.
Holowach said the ordinance is for cleaning and aligning the water lines on Main Street. He said this is the second project in which they’ve had to approve additional money because prices of materials have increased while the bidding process has gone on.
The money will pay for the installation and cleaning of new lining for water lines in and along Main Street, including pipes, structures, site work, equipment, work and materials.
The additional appropriation brings the bond total for this project to $910,000.