CHARLESTOWN — The Board of Town Commissioners is trying to plan for the potential loss of water or water quality when Artesian drills new wells nearby.
“They’re desiring to put in more wells and draw more water to the right of Route 7 at Charlestown Elementary School,” Bryan Lightner, town administrator, told the board. He said Artesian looks to increase its draw by as much as 200,000 gallons per day. He told the board he suggested to Artesian that they start with a 100,000 gpd draw and the Newark based company “did not like that.”
“Our grave concern is that our water will become contaminated,” Lightner said, telling the board that he is collecting information.
“We’re getting a geologist to help us with this. We think it has the possibility to impact our wells.,” he said noting that the recharge areas for both the town and the utility overlap. “We are worried about stormwater recharge and pollution.”
Recharge is the natural process of water returning back to the water table after soaking into the ground. Rainwater recharge is different than stormwater recharge, which runs across paved surfaces and collects pollutants.
According to Lightner, the town hopes to work with Cecil County to develop a water source protection plan. In the meantime, transducers are being installed in the town wells to monitor water levels.
“We’re going to notice if our wells are going dry,” he said, adding this would put Artesian on notice. “Hey, you’re not allowed to suck all our water out. You can’t impact Charlestown.”
Karl Fockler, president of the board, agreed.
“If we don’t protect our water we could see us going to Artesian to have to buy water,” Fockler said.
Joseph DiNunzio, Executive Vice President and Corporate Secretary for Artesian, said the company understands Charlestown’s concerns but the additional wells are not showing any impact on town wells.
”We certainly plan to work with the town and share data to protect the quantity and quality,” DiNunzio said.
Artesian is the water supplier for more than 700 homes and businesses in Principio Business Park, Charlestown Crossing, Whittaker Woods and in the Mountain Hill community. However it is looking toward its future and the need for more water for its growing number of customers.
”Over the past 15 years we’ve seen a 24% growth rate every year,” DiNunzio said. “We didn’t expect it to grow that much. We planned for 10%.”
With well permits issued for 12-year cycles, DiNunzio said Artesian looked at its projected demands and in July 2021 started adding wells. While they have five wells only four are in use. What the utility considers Well #4 may not go into production, he said, noting its lack of adequate water draw.
”As a matter of course we always want to be in a position where, if we lose our largest supply we want to be able to maintain water,” he said.
In February 2022, Artesian conducted a hydrological study of the aquifer to see if it could provide for the increased capacity of an additional 118,000 gallons per day. The testing was conducted 2,800 feet from the new well and was 4,500 feet from the nearest town well.
”We saw no impact on our other wells or the town well,” DiNunzio said. According to DiNunzio there is enough recharge area around all the wells to protect the supply and the current wells should meet the needs into the next decade.
”But we are looking at other alternatives,” he added.
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