Dagsboro water loss reduced, meeting with Millsboro officials planned

Dagsboro finally has some good news about town water: they’re paying much less for it. Moreover, that’s water they possibly never used.

Dagsboro buy water from the Town of Millsboro, but for the last few years, they’ve paid for millions of unaccounted gallons.

At the Aug. 26 Dagsboro town council meeting, town administrator Stacey Long said there had been a major discrepancy between what she bills the residents and what Millsboro believes Dagsboro is using.

In 2011 alone, 27 million gallons were unaccounted for, costing $81,000, or 59 percent of the Town’s total water purchase.

From July of 2010 until the purchase and installation of a new water meter in March of 2012, Dagsboro paid an estimated $115,000 in unaccounted-for water.

Dagsboro purchased the new water meter for $17,000 and reduced the pipe size, which helps reduce water flow.

“It appears to be working,” said Long.

From March to December of 2012, only 3 million gallons (16 percent) was unaccounted for.

This month, Long reported that only 9 percent is unaccounted for in all of 2013, and that’s considered a reasonable level of loss.

“The Delaware Rural Water Association recommends [that you assume] 5 to 15 percent for evaporation, hydrant flushing and fires,” Long said. “I am extremely happy.”

The numbers still fluctuate month-to-month, “but the overall big picture is right on,” said Long.

A mystery lingers as to what caused the Town water meter to record such high numbers, compared to the total of residents’ own water usage. Dagsboro has kept the old meter in their custody, locked up until they can get a mechanic to diagnose the problem.

Town Solicitor Rob Witsil advised Dagsboro to get an expert’s opinion on the problem, which is likely to involve problems with installation, operation or readings. Then Dagsboro will have solid evidence when they meet with Millsboro.

Long said Millsboro was aware of the discrepancy between water readings. Councilman Brad Connor said he had run into a member of Millsboro Town Council who advised Dagsboro to approach Millsboro “whenever they’re ready.”

He and several representatives will meet with Millsboro soon.

In an effort to improve water quality, Long also discussed hydrant flushing. She pulled out several bids from 2011 for the Town to purchase automatic hydrant flushers. She will get updated prices for next month.

The Delaware Rural Water Association also recommended that Dagsboro do a major town-wide hydrant flush twice annually, which the Town only does once annually under Artesian Water. The council voted unanimously to hire the nonprofit Rural Water, for about $4,000 for one additional flushing, six months apart from their existing flushes. That price was determined to be significantly lower than the $16,000 charge by a for-profit business.

In other Dagsboro news, after the resignation of a Town police officer, the council voted to approve hiring a new officer. There was concern about Dagsboro’s continuing eligibility for the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grant, under which the former officer was hired. Sgt. Harry Litten said COPS was “noncommittal” about repercussions of withdrawing early from the program, although he hinted that their future partnership may be affected.

Realizing that they had already budgeted for an officer’s salary and only had to pay around $6,000 for the new officer’s application and hiring tests, the council unanimously approved searching for a new officer, even if it means sending him or her to the state police academy.

The next Dagsboro Town Council meeting is scheduled for Monday, Sept. 23.