Water Service Disrupted in Northern Cecil County; Affects Gore Facilities

September 30, 2011

Water service provided by the Meadowview water plant in northern Cecil County was disrupted Friday for most of the day, with some business and residential customers losing all water service and others, including Gore manufacturing facilities, suffering major reductions in water pressure.

The disruptions were caused by a “major system disruption” in facilities owned by United Water of Delaware, which contracts to provide daily water flows to the Meadowview facility, according to Scott Flanigan, Cecil County Director of Public Works. Tanks owned by the company failed and drained “almost immediately.”

The Meadowview water system also relies on county owned-wells that continued to function normally, Flanigan said. But an on-site water tank owned by the county had been drained about a week ago for painting and maintenance so it was not available to provide back-up water supplies, he added.

The problems began at about 5:45 a.m. Friday, with about 25 percent of customers losing all water and the rest suffering major reductions in water pressure. Flanigan said that some of Gore’s manufacturing processes were affected by the water pressure reductions.

By late afternoon, repairs to the Delaware firm’s facilities were underway and water had been restored to most Meadowview customers, although many still suffered low water pressure. Flanigan said full service was expected to be restored by Friday evening.

The county’s Meadowview water system is slated to be sold by the end of this year to the private Artesian Resources firm of Delaware as part of a 2008 agreement to sell all county water plants and facilities to the private company. During its filings with the Maryland Public Service Commission, Artesian documented its multiple sources of water including Delaware and Pennsylvania sources as evidence that it could ensure customers reliability of service. The state PSC approved the sale to Artesian and cited reliability of service as an important factor in the approval.

Since the problem Friday stemmed from another contractor, it should not affect the valuation of Meadowview as part of the sale process to Artesian, Flanigan said.

Artesian had also contracted to buy four county sewage treatment plants and won PSC approval of the deal. But that separate contract was “mutually terminated” by Artesian and the County Commissioners several days ago, after a protracted battle by a land use group and opposition led by Commissioner Diana Broomell (R-4) that won support from her usual voting allies, Commissioners James Mullin (R-1) and Michael Dunn (R-3).

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