Thursday, Feb. 7, 2008

Walkersville’s mandatory water boil advisory to end by this weekend

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Walkersville is closer to having clean drinking water again.

A water boil advisory instituted by the town Jan. 27 should end by Friday or Saturday, Commissioner Chad W. Weddle said, ‘‘if we don’t get any other strange results.”

The town will begin temporarily using a mixture of Frederick County and Frederick city water, pumped from a treatment plant in the Waterside subdivision through an above-ground, 6-inch pipe along Md. Route 194. The arrangement could continue for months, as it did in 1999 after a Walkersville sewer line ruptured.

Walkersville and Frederick County employees on Wednesday were flushing and cleaning the town’s water pipes with fluoride and water towers for a second time, Weddle said, and will flush the system a third time if they find traces of E. coli.

E. coli is a bacteria commonly found in the intestines of healthy cattle. The bacteria can cause illness in humans, particularly in small children or elderly people.

So far, 60 samples taken from homes and businesses that use town water have turned up negative for E. coli, Weddle said. The only sample that tested positive for the bacteria was taken last week at the town’s water treatment plant.

An unknown quantity of cow manure entered the town’s water supply from Teabow Farms, a 1,000-animal dairy farm north of town, between Jan. 22 and Jan. 26.

A 6-inch pipeline from a manure lagoon to holding tanks broke for the second time on Jan. 26, sending a flood of cow excrement into Glade Creek, a tributary to the Monocacy River.

The farm’s president, Jimmy Stup, and town officials have said the spills were accidental, and Stup has publicly apologized.

A Maryland Department of the Environment investigation that started Jan. 27 is continuing, Robert Ballinger, director of communications, said Tuesday.

The Frederick County Health Department is trying to collect 155 samples from private wells around Glade Creek.

Town clerk Diane Fauble said clean water for drinking and cooking is available at Walkersville Town Hall. Most of a 3,000-gallon shipment donated by Wal-Mart remained Wednesday.

Each household is allowed to take a single box, containing three 1-gallon jugs of water.

The donation followed an equal donation by Wal-Mart last week.

Residents may also bring their own containers and claim as much water as they want from a tanker set up at the Walkersville Volunteer Fire Company, 79 W. Frederick St.

The tanker, supplied by Frederick County, is available from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., and again from 4 to 8 p.m., daily, Fauble said.

Two water mains broke last week, in the Discovery subdivision and near Walkers Village Shopping Center, but the breaks were weather-related and not connected to the contamination situation, according to Weddle.

He said that the mains were soon repaired.