Selbyville has water violation, approves water/sewer increase

Selbyville is building a new water-treatment system to help remove chemicals from town water. But until the plant is completed in April of 2017, the Town risks water quality violations, such as the one they just received from the Division of Public Health.

Tests at 73 Main Street have shown Selbyville’s water had elevated levels of total trihalomethanes (TTHMs), a disinfection byproduct.

The state standard is a maximum of 80 parts-per-billion, but the recent four-quarter average in Selbyville was 124 ppb.

This is not an emergency, Councilman Rick Duncan Sr. told the town council on June 6. “The water is safe to drink.”

Residents do not need to boil their water or take other corrective actions, he said. However, the Town had 14 days to contact residents on the south Main Street line.

TTHMs may present increased risks to infants, the elderly or those with other medical problems. Prolonged exposure to TTHMs can affect the liver, kidneys, central nervous system and cancer risks.

These were the last four TTHM samples at south Main Street:

• 145.6 ppb on June 30, 2015;

• 153.2 ppb on Sept. 21, 2015;

• 98.1 ppb on Dec. 9, 2015; and

• 98.5 ppb on March 24, 2016;

Of the four water testing sites, south Main Street has long suffered from water impurities. During past water inspections, the Division of Public Health’s Office of Drinking Water has found that the Shady Grove neighborhood had almost no chlorine (a common disinfectant). Instead, the water had elevated levels of TTHMs, a byproduct of chorine disinfectants.

TTHMs form when water sits stagnant in the system for too long. But the southern water pipe ends in a dead end, and there’s no heavy use there, Duncan said. So water sits around, waiting for a faucet to turn on.

After a week of flushing, Duncan said, the Town will ask for a resample, and they hope they’ll be back in compliance.

“The new plant will, hopefully, eliminate these violations,” Duncan said.

Selbyville is building the system to supplement the existing water plant. The filters are simple: two basic air-stripping towers, around 30 feet tall. In the columns, water flows down, while air is pumped upward. Volatile organics (such as some trihalomethanes and gasoline additive methyl tert-butyl ether, or MTBE) evaporate when they touch air, so the exposure to air pulls them from the water.

Building the plant should essentially be free, as Selbyville received $2,526,300 from the Delaware Drinking Water Revolving Fund for the project. Officially, that is a loan with 0 percent interest that will be 100 percent forgiven when the water filtration system is complete.

But where money runs thin, the council this week also approved an application to request an additional $500,000 Emergency Community Water Assistance Grant from USDA.

Construction is on schedule, although designs and permits took more than a year longer than expected. The foundations have been laid, and builders are hoisting walls into place, said engineer Jason Loar of Davis, Bowen & Friedel Inc.

Anyone with questions can contact Selbyville Town Hall at (302) 436-8314.

In other Selbyville Town Council news:

• Sewer and water prices will increase this year. The town council approved a residential rate increase of $1 per month. Water customers living outside of town limits pay a staggered rate of approximately 1.2 times the residential rate. Their rates will also increase proportionally.

• Public Works is repairing some water meters that have shown inaccuracies lately.

• June 18 is the Old Timer’s Day festival, hosted downtown from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and again featuring a show of vintage and antique vehicles, as well as fun and games for the whole family.

• A Delaware State Police car chase recently led through town, but the Selbyville Police Department deployed stop sticks and apprehended the suspect during a foot chase. Police Chief W. Scott Collins complimented the officers and said “things are picking up” for summer.

• Beyond the annual Old Timer’s Day event, classic cars are coming full-time to downtown Selbyville. The town council approved a zoning conditional-use for Rick Danzi at 88 W. Church Street. He’s already begun upgrading the three lots to open a classic car workshop and display. That will likely be the future of his auto business when he retires or downsizes the Danzi Brothers business on Route 113.

It will not be a regular repair shop or used car lot. But up to 15 classic cars may be displayed there at any given time. “Not bigger than what I have out there,” he said. He may also host antique or show car cruise-ins.

• Town hall needs a new roof, so the town council accepted the $17,409 bid (plus any add-ons) from Empire Construction Group in Milton to replace the roof.

• The Town is seeking a new town administrator, as Michael Deal looks forward to retiring.

• Mountaire was observed to have unhitched trailers carrying live chickens at its plant in the town, which “is not what we agreed to” in a Town agreement, said Councilman Frank Smith III.

“That does happen,” Mountaire’s Jay Griffith said, promising to look into that complaint, plus questions of why chickens in cages were recently seen sitting on the ground at the plant.

The next Selbyville Town Council meeting has been rescheduled for July 11 at 7 p.m.