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Emmitsburg approves algae control technology

Danielle Ryan

(2/9) During the February 6 Town meeting, Town Council discussed the voluntary water curtailment, and issued its continuance until further notice.

Town Manager Cathy Willets noted that the reservoir has risen but the level is still 1.2 feet below the normal level. Over the last six months, the town has seen a precipitation deficit of 4.66 inches. "This deficiency has presented some tough times over the last five months," stated Dan Fissel, the Town’s Superintendent for Water and Sewer. Fissell has had a difficult time treating the water in the water plant; the wells have been backwashed more often, which has led to decreased flow and loss of efficiency. Even with the significant amount of rain received in January, Town staff still recommended that the voluntary water restriction be kept in effect. The rain hasn’t had much of a significant effect on the wells, so for now residents are still urged to be cautious with water usage. However, Willets noted that the Town needs to find ways to save water.

In January, Bill Kramer, of Kirshner Environmental, gave a presentation on new algae control technology for Rainbow Lake and the water plant. This new technology may present a solution to keep the algae population low, which would monumentally help the filtration process. Kramer briefed the Board about a new technology that could be utilized by the Town’s Water Treatment Plant. This technology, called LG Sonic, uses ultrasonic frequencies to destroy algae that accumulates in bodies of water. Due to the hindrance of algae on the filtration system within the water treatment plant, the Town has been backwashing more often than necessary, using more water at a higher cost. LG Sonic technology is environmentally friendly, offers low energy consumption and studies have shown significant cost savings.

This technology is new to the United States, only currently being used by one other city in New Jersey. Photos and information for Rainbow Lake was sent to the company, who estimated the cost of implementing the system in Town. The outright cost of the LG Sonic system is $38,650, which includes the system, the power system and one year of monitoring. Funding will come from the Water and Sewer fund and Town staff recommended the Board consider pulling money from the $80,000 EOT contract to purchase the system outright.

After the first year, if the Town chooses to continue with the system, the cost would be $13,000 per year. Several options were presented with varying costs after the first year, but Town staff recommended option #3 that includes site monitoring for the system 5 times per year and calibration of the system.

Fissell noted that with the utilization of this system, the Town could save approximately 642,250 gallons of water every month. There is also an estimated savings of approximately $19,385 in chemicals used per year, if this technology were being used. LG Sonic offers simplicity of operation, has proven to lower the chemicals used and allows the filters within the filtration system to run longer.

Fissell and Town staff recommended the Board approve the yearlong trial run, as they are confident that there is a potential for significant savings to the Town. The Board voted in favor of the new technology. Hopefully the system will be installed as early as April.

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