Georgetown investigating source of discolored water

GEORGETOWN – In response to recent complaints and reports of discolored water, the town of Georgetown has taken a water plant offline in efforts to pinpoint the discoloration source.

The cause of the discoloration is believed to be elevated levels of manganese, a mineral found naturally in the environment, including both groundwater and surface water.

According to Georgetown Town Manager Eugene Dvornick, the source with elevated levels of manganese has been taken offline. But there may be residual within the system.

“We believe it is coming from natural sources from which we pull our raw drinking water,” Mr. Dvornick said.

Georgetown Mayor Bill West said the town recently started two wells that were old wells years ago.

“We put new pumps on them,” Mayor West said. “We started seeing this discoloration in the water and we shut them down to do testing to figure out what it is that is causing it.

The town began receiving reports of dark water discoloration Sunday, Sept. 27.

“To be safe, when we started hearing the complaints, we shut them down. Now that we’ve got it shut down, we are not seeing anything (discoloration),” said Mayor West. “We’re going to do testing on them to figure out what it is and move forward.”

Mayor West said the town notified the state and is working with the Division of Public Health’s Office of Drinking Water and the Delaware Rural Water Association.

“They are on board with us. They know what we are doing. They said we’ve done everything right,” Mayor West said. “We’re looking at the correct way to get the manganese out of the water, so we don’t have that discoloration.”

According to Jamie Mack, Division of Public Health’s section chief of Health Systems Protection, there is no cause for alarm.

“Manganese is a normal part of the environment, it’s a metal and needed by the body in trace amounts,” said Mr. Mack. “In terms of drinking water, manganese is in the same category as iron as a secondary contaminant. This means that it becomes an aesthetic concern (taste, odor, color) before it ever becomes a health concern.  There is no health concern related to normal use, but the taste, odor and color can certainly have an impact on the appearance and the desire to use it.  We are aware and are working with the city to correct the issue.”

While manganese is commonly found in water supplies, noticeable effects include black to brown color, black staining and bitter metallic taste, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

The EPA recommends keeping manganese concentrations at or below 0.05 milligrams per liter for staining/taste reasons.