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Emmitsburg considers algae control technology

Danielle Ryan

(1/19) During the January 3 Town meeting, the Council discussed the voluntary water curtailment, and issued its continuance until further notice.

Dan Fissel, the Town’s Superintendent for Water/Sewer noted that the reservoir has risen to 14.3 ft, but the wells are still about three feet below the normal level. "This deficiency has presented some tough times over the last four months," stated Fissel. He has had a difficult time treating the water in the water plant; the wells have been backwashed more which has led to decreased flow and loss of efficiency. In early January, Fissel reduced the flow coming out of the wells, which resulted in the wells rising to a comfortable level and they appear to be holding. The significant amount of rain that was received in January will hopefully allow the wells to continue rising to their normal level.

When the water level is low, especially during the summer months, alga accumulates faster; a problem the Town has been facing for some time. However, the Town may have found a solution to keep the algae population low. A presentation on new algae control technology for Rainbow Lake and the water plant, was given by Bill Kramer, of Kirshner Environmental. Kramer briefed the Board about a new technology that could be utilized by the Town’s Water Treatment Plant. This technology, called LG Sonic, uses ultrasonic frequencies to destroy algae that accumulates in bodies of water. As algae hinder the filtration system within the water treatment plant, the Town has been required to backwash more often than necessary, using more water at a higher cost. LG Sonic technology offers low energy consumption as most run off of solar panels and studies have shown significant cost savings.

The technology is new to the United States, only currently being used by one other city in New Jersey. Photos and information for Rainbow Lake was sent to the company, who estimated the cost of implementing the system in Town. The cost of a "Chameleon System" with two transmitters and a buoy system, with one buoy were both presented to the Board for consideration.

The Chameleon System is proposed to cost $2,900 per month for the twelve-month study. After twelve months, Emmitsburg would own the units, and after the first year, it would only cost $1,250 per year for web monitoring and maintenance. Maintenance includes removal of the system every winter for recalibration to the transmitters. If the Town were unsatisfied with the system, they would be refunded $15,000. The buoy system, in comparison, would cost an additional $16,000.

The utilization of either system would reduce algae treatments, saving the Town an estimated $10,000 every year, according to Fissel. LG Sonic offers simplicity of operation, has proven to lower the chemicals used and allows the filters within the filtration system to run longer.

Fissell recommended the Town advance with the yearlong trial run, because he is confident that there is a potential for significant savings to the Town. Kramer added that the system could be added this spring. The Board seems to be in favor of the proposal, but will be re-visiting the issue during the February meeting.

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