Dagsboro water ruled nearly clear

It’s not quite ready to drink just yet, but town officials in Millsboro and Dagsboro reported forward progress on the central water situation earlier this week.

Both towns ran into elevated levels of trichloroethylene (TCE) last month — since Millsboro and Dagsboro share one single central water system, Millsboro and Dagsboro are dealing with the same contamination.

It actually first appeared in Dagsboro, at a local Boys and Girls Club extension (at the Dagsboro Church of God), Dagsboro Mayor S. Bradley Connor pointed out.

Several residents have criticized Dagsboro council for being slow to notify the public of the potential threat. Long-term exposure to TCE can damage the liver or kidneys. It’s also considered a possible carcinogen, again based on long-term exposure.

Connor said any delay in notifying the public had been unavoidable, and only as necessary to complete initial tests.

Delaware Health and Social Services (DHSS), Department of Public Health repeated tests at the church, and then followed the line back to the source — Millsboro’s municipal wells.

In the meantime, there’d been a public meeting in Dagsboro (town council meeting on Oct. 24), but no one on council mentioned the problem at that time.

Residents later complained they’d learned of the contamination from newspapers and television before they heard about it from council members. However, Connor said they’d had no choice but to follow the state’s lead, and they’d sent letters to all the residents as quickly as they could — they’d mailed them the very night of the meeting, he said.

The official press release from the DHSS regarding the contamination was dated that same day. Millsboro Town Manager Faye Lingo said they’d done likewise, calling the television stations and going right to the printers on Oct. 24.

Meanwhile, the town started looking for contractors to install a treatment system. The Delaware National Guard brought in tankers for the distribution of drinking water, and the WalMart Foundation delivered a truckload of bottled water at one point.

As of Nov. 22, Lingo said, state officials had tested north, south, east and west of the municipal wells and discovered no peripheral contamination.

And the town wells were running clear, she said — all that remained was to run some more tests along some of the outlying mains, areas that experience less frequent circulation.

They’d done some extensive flushing, but officials still hadn’t signed off on the system as a whole, Lingo said. And it would take a little longer to make sure any contaminants were flushed out of Dagsboro’s end of the central water system, she said.

Lingo said officials were running two tests a week, and she hoped to be able to report the all-clear very soon.

Again, the state has recommended all residents on central water limit their time in the bath or shower, and avoid drinking the water. For Dagsboro residents on central water, the National Guard has two tankers stationed at the Dagsboro Fire Hall, at 31818 Waples Street.