Selbyville to retest new wells after contaminant found

Selbyville will test two newly drilled town wells again, after a test in one showed a spike in methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE). Erik Retzlaff, an associate with Davis, Bowen & Friedel Inc., who works for the town, said the wells will be re-sampled by independent laboratories and the Town will “go from there.”

“Pending the results, we’ll go from there for the game plan,” he said. “It could be a false positive, or it could be a false negative in the other,” he added, referencing the fact that one of the wells tested negative and one tested positive with a number of 9 ppb. The maximum allowed contaminant level for Delaware is 10 ppb, according to the Division of Public Health.

“If it is, it could potentially spread throughout the town. But it’s a little premature to freak out about it,” he said.

Councilman Frank Smith asked if spikes like that were rare.

“I’ve seen spikes of different things,” said Retzlaff, “but where it is in one well and not the other, that’s the situation we have now. We just need to re-sample to confirm or deny what’s there.”

Councilman Jay Murray said adverse weather in recent weeks could have contributed to a spike and affected the levels.

“Hopefully, the tests will come back and there will be nothing there,” said Retzlaff.

He explained that the Town is drilling the two new wells because the old wells showed contamination with MTBE and they have no way of treating it. He said the old wells had tested at a level of 6 ppb, which is within limits, but because they couldn’t treat it, the drilling of the new wells was intended to help alleviate any issues. He said the new wells are about 1,800 feet away from the old ones, and the two new ones are about 150 feet away from each other. They are located at Cemetery Road and West Railroad Avenue.

In February, the council had said that, after water quality testing, the pumps, generator and connecting pipes would be installed at the new well sites. The additional testing will now take place first.

The Town also recently received a Water Fluoridation Quality Award. Selbyville has had fluoridated water since the 1960s and received recognition for their contribution to the “oral health of Delaware residents” from Dr. Karyl Thomas Rattay, the director of the Delaware Division of Public Health, in a letter read by Councilman Richard Duncan.

Town Manager Robert Dickerson told council members this week that they are continuing to look at ways the Town might be able to have some type of maintenance agreement between it and homeowners in the Victoria Forest community regarding stormwater management. He said there is money in escrow, and the escrow company is willing to “write the check out, but don’t know who to write the check out to.”

He also said he was looking into whether state or town code would take priority. He said they could possibly get a voluntary maintenance agreement made and added that the original documents were “really only good between Gemcraft and the original developer.”

A homeowner said the situation was a “legal nightmare,” and Councilman Jay Murray added that they needed to “do away with the original Gemcraft documents and just have a stormwater/maintenance agreement.”

Dickerson said it was a “problem we need to keep after.”

The council also heard this week from Eagle Scout Chris Smith, a 10th grader at Indian River High School. Smith presented his Eagle Scout project to the Town, proposing to add three bike racks — one at Southern Delaware School of the Arts (SDSA), one at town hall and one at Phillip Showell Elementary. He said they would be permanently mounted and about 24 inches high, would hold eight bikes and would be provided at no cost to the Town.

“Well, we don’t get many requests like this,” said Mayor Cliftton Murray. “It definitely can be a benefit.”

“It’s a great project,” added Jay Murray. “We are very appreciative.”

Mayor Murray noted that he had a good time at the children’s art show at the Selbyville Public Library, held on Saturday, March 9, and that they had had a great turnout. Dawn Lekites, who sits on the library’s board, also announced grant received from Sussex County Councilman Vance Phillips.

She said they had recently discussed getting a new roof on the library and had thought they should try to raise around $12,000 to 14,000 for it.

“We were overwhelmed last week when Vance Phillips came and presented us with a check for $25,000. Needless to say, we are going to work on our roof,” she said. The money came from a county budget surplus that Sussex County Council voted to split between the 11 independent libraries in Sussex County.

Dickerson also said on Monday that he was pretty sure the Town would be approved to refinance three USDA water loans it currently has through the State’s Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, at a reduced rate of 1.5 percent, which would save more than $1 million over the course of the loans.

“It really is sort of a no-brainer,” said Dickerson. “We have two loans at 4.25 percent and one at 3.25 percent, and we have an opportunity to refinance at 1.5 percent. It will reduce our payout by 10 years and save the Town about $1,011,000.”

He said they thought they would be ranked lower on the list of potential loan recipients because they don’t actually have an active project but are just looking to refinance, but Duncan said they had been “13th on the list, and now we are fifth.”

Dickerson said he hopes to settle those loans in July or August, if the Town is indeed approved for them.

In other news:

• The town will host a poker run the day before Old Timer’s Day in June, at five area stores, at which people can possibly win prizes.

• Councilman Jay Murray added that the police department had had 175 calls for service for the past month, and had issued 142 tickets and made 18 various arrests.

Police Chief Scott Collins added that their two school resource officers (SROs), Detective Reed and Officer Corrigan, are working on comprehensive school safety plans. He said Phillip Showell Elementary School’s plan is completed and that they were recently noted by the Delaware’s Office of Homeland Security for being “well ahead of most of the state.” He said Selbyville Middle School’s plan is almost completed and SDSA’s should be done soon, as well.