Proposal to inspect Perryville water customers plumbing fails

A proposal that would have sent brochures about leak detection from Artesian Water Co. to customers of the Perryville water system died Tuesday night for lack of a motion from the Board of Town Commissioners.

PERRYVILLE — Saying it was an “all or nothing” type of program a proposal from Artesian Water Company to offer leak detection services to town residents died Tuesday night for lack of a motion before the Board of Town Commissioners.

Artesian, the water company of record for many in Cecil County, offered the program — which is available to its customers — to Perryville water customers after a recent conversation with Mayor Matt Roath.

Roath told Joseph DiNunzio, executive vice president of Artesian, that town public works employees could perform the inspections except for the lack of time and resources. That’s how the Artesian offer was made.

Under the proposal the town would pay $1,550, which would cover the cost of printed materials for residents. For those who are interested in the service the town would pay $100 for each inspection. Artesian would give a report on its findings to the resident and offered to give the town reports as well, which some on the board felt would be an invasion of privacy.

DiNunzio made a presentation to the board in August. At the September town meeting Roath called for a motion to accept the proposed program, to which none responded.

“I appreciate the opportunity and I understand your decision entirely,” DiNunzio said.

Commissioner Bob Taylor said that only those with known high water usage billing would probably sign up for the inspection.

“If this were offered, about 10% would take advantage of it,” Taylor said.

Roath acknowledged that not everyone in Perryville would seek out the assistance.

“People with no issue aren’t going to ask for it,” Roath said. “That’s where we came up with the 10%.”

To cap the number of inspections the town would fund would save money but it would not fix the problem, Taylor noted, adding it would have to be done at every connection to make any kind of impact.

Like other municipalities with its own water and sewer systems, Perryville is concerned about leaks that cause high water usage, which translates to higher bills for residents and wasted resources with the loss of treated water. For Taylor Perryville’s bigger problem is inflow and infiltration (INI). That’s when water from other sources — such as rain and storm surge — flood the system.

“I’m concerned about the town paying for each of these evaluations,” Taylor said. “I feel like it’s too expensive.”

Roath asked Taylor, the town’s water commissioner, if he saw any value in the service.

“The savings would be significant if we did the entire town,” Taylor said, but added that cost would be “in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

“We do have a lot of people that need this,” Taylor said of the Artesian inspection service. “But we have a serious INI problem throughout the town.”

Taylor noted that the water and sewer funds are required by law to be self supporting, meaning the money collected from customers of these services must go into the maintenance and operation of the utilities exclusively.

“We’re looking at additional funds for a system that runs at a deficit,” Taylor said.

In the same meeting Taylor told the board that a $7,000 part to repair the aging wastewater plant was not needed in the end.

“But I am recommending the town keep the flex joint instead of sending it back,” Taylor said.

It took five weeks to get the part before discovering the fix was simpler. He explained the real problem was not found until 13 tanker trucks were filled with waste and the levels in the treatment plant were low enough for repair. Taylor said when the flex joint is eventually needed it will be on hand.

Meanwhile Taylor reported that Perryville received another $60,000 grant from the Maryland Department of the Environment for its success in enhanced nutrient removal. COVID funding made the grant award increase to $72,000, which will go to the wastewater fund.

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