Artesian's Dagsboro facility

Artesian's new facility in Dagsboro could soon help it serve customers in the town and in neighboring Frankford.

The Artesian Water Company has already begun construction on its new Greater Dagsboro Water Treatment Plant on Armory Road, anticipating it being fully operational by April or May of 2021.

The Town of Millsboro has been providing Dagsboro residents with water from its system for more than 18 years, as part of a 20-year agreement that isn’t set to expire until December of 2022. Dagsboro is locked into that agreement and is unlikely to be able to get out of it early.

However, according to Artesian Senior Vice President John Thaeder, there is nowhere in the agreement that says Dagsboro cannot get water from another source, which is where Artesian comes in.

“The agreement that you have with Millsboro does not say you can’t take water from another provider,” Thaeder noted.

Artesian spokesman Rob Penman was a part the virtual Dagsboro Town Council meeting on Monday, Nov. 16, and updated council members on where things stand with regards to construction, but, more importantly, on where conversations between Artesian and the Town of Millsboro have progressed to this point.

“We tried to set up meetings with Millsboro but, unfortunately, that was unsuccessful,” Penman said. “We feel that this is still the best way to go. We would like the Town to give us permission to move forward.”

Among the other items in the mix with Artesian is an interconnect that they plan to construct that would connect the water supply from the Dagsboro plant to the system formerly operated by the Town of Frankford, which supplies residents of that town and adjacent areas. Artesian purchased the Frankford water system in April. That interconnect is a big piece of the Artesian puzzle with regards to Artesian’s regional water plans for southern Sussex County.

The new Artesian plant will likely be providing an additional 2 million gallons of water to the area every day, for Dagsboro and Frankford, as well as other areas in the southeastern part of the county.

Plans for the interconnection would involve the service going into the town of Dagsboro and then out of the town to Frankford.

The interconnect issue drew some concerns for Dagsboro Councilwoman Theresa Ulrich.

“Without discussing this with Millsboro, is this something we would be allowed to do, approve this interconnect? Or is this going to give us problems down the road?” asked Ulrich.

There were also some concerns and questions on other issues from Dagsboro Councilman William Chandler III. Among those concerns were whether the interconnect would mean that Dagsboro’s water would be mixing in the pipes from Frankford.

“It will be interconnection,” explained Penman. “You will not be getting any Frankford water into Dagsboro. It’s to be able to transmit water from our Dagsboro plant into Frankford. Water will be flowing through Dagsboro lines into Frankford. It will also help keep the water fresh in town by moving water that way.”

“Then, are we, the citizens, residents, purchasing water from Artesian?” Chandler continued.

“Hopefully, that’s the plan,” answered Thaeder.

That then begged the question from Chandler about the cost of said water from Artesian.

“At some point, isn’t there going to have to be a discussion about what we are charged for that water, for example?” added Chandler. “We’re now being asked to approve something in the abstract which is going to become real next May or April of 2021. But the terms and conditions of the relationship, I’m not aware of. That is going to be happening when?”

Penman responded, saying, “Water going into Dagsboro, Dagsboro will be charged for. The water leaving and going into Frankford, Artesian would be charged for, and we’d be paying Dagsboro for that.”

Chandler then had further a inquiry on the interconnect, asking if there was a potential that water produced by Artesian could end up in Dagsboro’s water tank, which is located back behind the old firehouse. That water tank is now owned by Artesian.

“If so, could it find its way back to Millsboro?” asked Chandler.

“We fully expect to have some water from Artesian’s new plant enter your water tower, absolutely,” Penman responded. “Most of the water, we expect, will be going south through town toward Frankford. We doubt very highly that any water will be going to Millsboro. However, the way your Millsboro interconnection is set up for water to flow both ways, there is no way 100 percent to predict that Millsboro would not get any water from the Dagsboro plant.”

Dagsboro Mayor Brian Baull asked if Penman and Thaeder could possibly write up an agreement for the council “to look at, and present it at the December meeting to possibly vote on it.”

The December meeting is tentatively scheduled to be another remote, virtual meeting, which would be held on Monday, Dec. 21.

Staff Reporter

Jason has been in journalism for 20 years. He moved to Coastal Delaware in August 2017 with his wife, Jessica, and their daughters, Kylie, 17, and Grace, 12. He has a passion for high-school sports and especially values the relationships that builds.