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 Problems Noted at Carthage Water Facility

March 28, 2007 - The Carthage Town Council has revealed that an inspection of the town's water utility in early March by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management found several violations.

An IDEM field inspector conducted a sanitary survey of Carthage's water utility on March 2. Council members reviewed a written summary of that inspection Monday evening at their regular monthly meeting.

The first issue noted in IDEM's written summary is that the town's 100,000 gallon elevated storage tank - in use since 1938 - does not have sufficient storage capacity to meet the town's demand. According to IDEM, the town's storage capacity should "be equal to at least one day's average usage," which the agency estimated to be about 200,000 gallons.

IDEM also cited problems with condition of the town's water tank. "Its present condition allows debris to enter the tank presenting a potential for the contamination of the water and is unsanitary," Liz Melvin, chief of the Field Inspection Section of IDEM's Drinking Water Branch of the Office of Water Quality, wrote in the inspection summary, which was issued March 20. In addition to repairs to the tank itself, Melvin said controls at the water utility's pump house used to regulate the water volume in the storage tank also need to be replaced.

According to IDEM, an estimated 60 percent of the town's water is unaccounted for due to the poor condition of the system's mains, valves and hydrants. The agency said this problem is also compounded by old and inaccurate residential water meters.

The deficiencies IDEM noted with regard to the town's water tower and the system's mains, valves, hydrants and meters, came as no surprise to council members. They are all issues addressed in a proposed water utility improvement project that has been in the works for several years and is ready to move forward once funding has been secured. The IDEM inspection did reveal, however, several issues about which council members had not been aware:

*The chlorine room at the town's water plant was not properly sealed, with gaps existing between the walls and floor, and a boarded up inspection window was not properly sealed. IDEM also noted that a door leading from the chlorine room did not open outward as required, a chlorine vent line was lacking a screen over its end, and there was no leak detection warning system for the chlorine room.

*The waste line from a water softener used in conjunction with the town's flouridation system was discharging out the back of the building "next to one of the town's shallow wells." IDEM said this waste needs "to be properly contained and disposed of to avoid contaminating the well."

*The water utility did not have a site sampling plan on file with IDEM's Drinking Water Branch. The required plan must include a map showing the sampling locations with the name and address of the resident or business at the site.

*The town had not been submitting two sets of bacteriological samples before canceling boil water advisories. IDEM requires two sets of samples to be collected at least 24 hours apart before an advisory can be cancelled.

With respect to this last issue, Les Day, operator of the town's water and wastewater systems, told the council that the town had only been submitting one bacteriological sample before canceling the boil advisories. He said that from this point forward, two samples will be submitted to IDEM.

The council also took action Monday to address the issue of the water softener's waste line by voting to switch from a powdered to a liquid flouridation system, which does not require use of the water softener. Council member Tim Wehr, who currently serves as the town's interim works manager, estimated the town will save about a dollar a day by using the liquid flouridation system, although the town will have to spend about $1,200 to purchase a new scales to use with the liquid system.

IDEM has given the town 30 days to respond and show the issues have been addressed.


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