Dagsboro water providers near agreement

DAGSBORO — Sometime in the spring, Artesian Water Co. might be joining the town of Millsboro in providing water to Dagsboro.

Millsboro has been Dagsboro’s primary water source for 18 years.

Rounds of discussion and presentation have reached the potential agreement stage and, at its Dec. 14 meeting, Dagsboro’s Town Council plans to review and possibly act on Artesian’s interconnect proposal with the town of Frankford.

The Frankford interconnection is a cornerstone piece of the puzzle for Artesian’s regional water service plans.

Artesian’s Greater Dagsboro Water Treatment Plant, under construction on Armory Road, is projected to be operational next April or May, providing an additional supply of 2 million gallons per day to the region.

It will serve the towns of Dagsboro and Frankford, as well as other areas in southeastern Sussex County, according to John Thaeder, senior vice president for Artesian Resources Corp. & Subsidiaries.

This past April, Artesian finalized the purchase of Frankford’s somewhat outdated water system.

At its Sept. 21 virtual meeting, Dagsboro council postponed action on Artesian’s request for an interconnection with Frankford, instead opting to meet with representatives of its two neighboring towns and Artesian.

“We tried to set up meetings with Millsboro but, unfortunately, that was unsuccessful,” said Artesian spokesman Rob Penman. “We feel that this is still the best way to go. We would like the town to give us permission to move forward.”

At present, Dagsboro is locked in a 20-year agreement with the town of Millsboro, which is to provide Dagsboro water through December 2022.

“Without discussing this with Millsboro, is this something we would be allowed to do, approve this interconnect? Or is this going to give us problems down the road?” asked Dagsboro Councilwoman Theresa Ulrich during council’s Monday meeting.

“The agreement that you have with Millsboro does not say you can’t take water from another provider,” said Mr. Thaeder.

Dagsboro Mayor Brian Baull asked Mr. Penman and Mr. Thaeder to draw up “an agreement that we can look at and present it at the December meeting for us to possibly vote on it.”

Councilman William Chandler III had some questions and concerns.

He asked if the interconnect means that Dagsboro will be getting water intermingling in underground pipes from Frankford or if it’s water not flowing back and forth.

“It will be interconnection. You will not be getting any Frankford water into Dagsboro. It’s to be able to transmit water from our Dagsboro plant into Frankford,” said Mr. Penman. “Water will be flowing through Dagsboro lines into Frankford. It will also help keep the water fresh in town by moving water that way.”

Councilman Chandler continued, asking, “Then, are we, the citizens, residents (of Dagsboro) purchasing water from Artesian?”

“Hopefully. That’s the plan,” said Mr. Thaeder.

Councilman Chandler asked about the cost.

“At some point, isn’t there going to have to be a discussion about what we are charged for that water, for example?” he said. “We’re now being asked to approve something in the abstract, which is going to become real next May or April of 2021. But the terms and conditions of the relationship I’m not aware of. That is going to be happening when?”

Mr. Penman next explained the charges.

“Water going into Dagsboro, Dagsboro will be charged for,” he said. “The water leaving and going into Frankford, Artesian would be charged for, and we’d be paying Dagsboro for that.”

Artesian’s plans are for an interconnection that would go into the town of Dagsboro and go out of town to Frankford.

Councilman Chandler asked if that means that some water produced by Artesian could wind up in the town’s water tank behind the old firehouse property — now owned by Artesian — on Waples Street.

“And if so, could it find its way back to Millsboro?” he asked.

Mr. Penman said no.

“We fully expect to have some water from Artesian’s new plant enter your water tower, absolutely,” he said. “Most of the water we expect will be going south through town towards Frankford. We doubt very highly that any water will be going to Millsboro. However, the way your Millsboro interconnection is set up for water to flow both ways, there is no way 100% to predict that Millsboro would not get any water from the Dagsboro plant.”

“We assume that you’ll still take some water from Millsboro,” said Mr. Thaeder.

Questioned by Kyle Gulbronson, Dagsboro’s consultant from AECOM, about the future of the Frankford water plant once the new Dagsboro plant is fully operational, Mr. Thaeder said Artesian’s plan is that the Frankford facility “will be used for emergencies only. It’s not to be used for everyday water.”