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Drinking water problems reported

Richard D. L. Fulton

(9/21) Earlier this month, some Emmitsburg water customers reported discolored drinking water with a "metallic taste." The incident was discussed at the September 17 meeting of the town Board of Commissioners.

According to Emmitsburg Town Manager, David Haller, the water problems were reported during the week of September 10. Haller told the commissioners that the discoloration and metallic taste resulted from chlorine problems at the treatment plant.

Haller said that upon investigation, the plant staff found that the "chlorine level was slightly low," which affected the appearance of the water. The problem, Haller noted, had occurred in only one of the two tanks at the facility. However, staff had still not figured out "why it occurred in one tank and not the other."

To address the deficiency in chlorine content in one tank, he said staff increased the amount of chlorine. "We got the chlorine up to where we wanted," Haller told the board, and that the metallic taste reported was the result of the increase of chlorine used to bring the chlorine level back up.

Haller said the water was safe to consume during the chlorine incident.

The town water supply continues to suffer from the drought conditions during August. The town manager told the board that Rainbow Lake, which serves as a town reservoir, was still two inches below its spillway. In addition, he said the town wells were averaging ten feet below their normal levels.

Haller said the town water supply is still in a six-month deficit. "We have [had] a precipitation deficit of 7.1 inches over the last six months," he reported. "The average precipitation for the period from March 1 through August 30 is 23.9 inches. We have received 16.8 inches for that period."

The up-side of Hallerís report was that there were no untreated sewage spills during August, and no incidences in which the wastewater treatment plant exceeded its capacity, even though 14 percent of the water treated in August was "wild water," or unwanted water that had infiltrated the system.

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