Harrington takes steps to reduce brown water problem

HARRINGTON — When a white towel turned brown in the washer of a Harrington resident, city leaders stepped up to start fixing the problem.

“Harrington Avenue is today’s discussion. … There’s some brown water,” City Manager Don Williams said, beginning Monday night’s city council meeting.

Much of Harrington’s water piping structure relies on antiquated iron piping. Although a suitable option for municipalities at the time of installation, newer alternatives such as PVC piping are now more attractive for local leaders like those in Harrington.

Mr. Williams told council the direction of the current, older piping that rests under the ground near the Blanchette’s property — where the washer filled with brown water — is also problematic.

The water pipes near their home run up their street, Harrington Avenue, and takes a sharp turn to diagonally connect to the next road of piping on Second Avenue. It turns again to run along Second Avenue before stopping at a dead-end where a paper alley now exists. (That’s an alley that was earmarked by previous leaders as a potential road or alleyway that was never built.) This leaves stagnant water for area residents.

Pointing to a map of the area, Mr. Williams said, “When we cracked into it [to bleed the line], that’s [crossover] where the rusty water was probably sitting.”

Like many municipalities, Harrington flushes its water system monthly in hopes of alleviating, or even eliminating, the problems that surface from beneath the ground. But that’s exactly what causes brown water to be found in the Blanchette home monthly.

“I’m the proud owner of that brown washer,” Kathy Blanchette joked.

She and her husband have lived in their Harrington home now for 14 years. Her mother has lived across the street from the Blanchette’s home since 1979.

“She [mom] had brown water, too. It seems like I have it worse than anybody else,” Ms. Blanchette said.

“It comes and goes. It’s not all the time. I know when they flush the hydrants, so on the third Monday or Tuesday, I know not to do any laundry or drink the water. When I do my laundry, I have to fill the washer up to make sure the water isn’t brown. In the past, I would have trouble seven, eight, nine times a year. Then they added some other chemicals and it’s gotten better. If I need iron out, Alan [Moore] just gives it to me. But that day I washed a white towel and it came out brown.”

Full circle solutions

During his presentation of the issue to council members, Mr. Williams said he thinks he and Public Works Supervisor Alan Moore might have a solution to help minimize the problems found at the Blanchette’s home.

He suggested removing the piping that diagonally crossed over from Harrington Avenue to Second Avenue and instead, adding water pipes from where it currently ends on Harrington Avenue to the paper alley followed by more piping to connect it to Second Avenue, creating a loop effect rather than dead-ends. New 6-inch PVC piping would be used for any new lines added. He also suggested adding a new sewer line in the Harrington Avenue stretch to provide that service, as well.

“We’re trying to service the enclave and end dead-ends,” he said. “That crossover between Second Avenue and Harrington Avenue, it really doesn’t serve any purpose other than in 1980 when there was some bacteria. . . We want to eliminate this iron pipe and try to loop the system.”

The project, which includes piping, stone, valves, four new fire hydrants and other supplies, will cost the city around $30,000. The sewer is projected to cost between $2,000 to $5,000 dollars. City of Harrington Public Works employees are prepared to do the work while keeping the costs low, Mr. Moore confirmed.

“For the price, I think this serves numerous people and fixes a lot of issues in one,” Mr. Williams added.

Council members unanimously voted to approve the suggested fixes and additions; many also commended Mr. Williams and the Public Works department for their work and dedication to the issue at hand.

Harrington Mayor Tony Moyer agreed, saying, “It sounds like the right thing to do.”

During the public commentary portion of the meeting, local resident Barbara Bullock commended the city on its stewardship and concern for its citizens.

“I want to commend the city. I’ve been coming to meeting for five years. The progress that city has made. . . infrastructure is really important. I feel like it’s been kicked down the road for many years,” she said. “I commend the council for taking the stewardship seriously, making difficult decisions and spending money. I’m really very proud of all of you and all of the work you’ve done.”

As for Ms. Blanchette, she also expressed appreciation for the efforts put in place by the council and city staff.

“I’m tickled they’re trying to do something. In all the years we’ve been there, the city hasn’t tried to help fix the problem, but Public Works has been there to do what they can every time. They have been wonderful,” she said.

Reach staff writer Jennifer Antonik at jantonik@newszap.com

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