Dingman-Delaware water problems could be a big budget splash

| 29 Sep 2011 | 08:08

School district works on long-term water solutions WESTFALL - Solutions for the Dingman-Delaware Middle School water problems are expected to be a mix of good and bad news. The good news involves the completion of an engineering study including recommendations and timelines for correcting the building’s recurrent water problems. The bad news may be that cost estimates, also expected in the final study, may run as high as $2 million, board member Jack Fisher suggested recently. However, Director of Support Services, Marvin Eversdyke cautioned about predicting cost numbers. On Tuesday he said the engineers still had not completed their cost estimates. “If you throw a number out there, you can’t get it back,” he said. Eversdyke, offered a progress report to the board of education on Feb. 9. The study by McGoey Hauser and Edsall Consulting Engineers was 75 to 80 percent completed, Eversdyke said. The state Department of Environmental Protection is also expected to provide comments on the study. The district has already begun installing some new hardware for the system, which adds an acidifying/neutralizing agent to the overly alkaline well water. A lock-out switch and blow-off valve, have been delivered and were to be installed during the past week. A new pump was installed on the day of the meeting, Eversdyke said. Eversdyke emphasized that state officials said that reducing the potency neutralizing agent was that the most important change. The neutralizing solution is being reduced from 50 to 25 percent. “That means we’ll be handling a lot less caustic solution than in the past. But in a weaker solution, a larger volume will be required to adjust the pH,” he said. In addition, two more school employees will be trained in operation of the water system upon the next cycle of course offerings. Principal Joseph Caraminica said workmen were at the school Monday afternoon, but he could not give details about their progress. Caraminica said the school is continuing to use bottled water for drinking and cooking purposes. “There is nothing very dramatic about it. We have three water fountains installed and our custodians replenish them as needed.” In January, Eversdyke explained that a contractor, working on the well during the mid-term break, had tapped into the water system electrical supply and prompted the release of neutralizing agent into four storage tanks, which were empty over the break. The over-release was discovered just prior to the reopening of school and the building has been on bottled water ever since. After the district flushed the system, the Department of Environmental Protection pronounced the water potable, but school officials have decided to stay with the bottled water for the immediate future. The district is also continuing to sample the well daily for state inspection. The study is expected to recommend a unified water system for the three Dingman-Delaware buildings that would likely include abandoning the middle-school well and installation of a larger water storage facility, engineer Mike Weeks said in January. Board member Ed Silverstone said the $1.5 to $2 million repair costs should not be added to the budget as an expense item, which alone could prompt a four or five percent tax increase. “We should find another way to finance this,” he said.