Cause of Emmitsburg’s Brown Water Still Unknown

Commissioners will meet again on February 3

Emmitsburg, MD – The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners held a special meeting Wednesday to address the town’s unresolved brown water issues.

Town Manager Cathy Willets gave a presentation during the meeting and said the exact causes of the brown water problem is still unknown, but the Division of Utilities and Solid Waste Management is analyzing water samples.

“We’re hoping to have the results in their final report before the February third meeting,” Willets said. “Once we have the test results, we hope to better understand what might be the primary cause of this colored water and what follow up actions might be appropriate.”

Willets said pipes installed before 1952 were unlined ductile iron pipes which could have corrosion control problems, but the town isn’t ruling anything out for what may be causing the water issues.

“We’re not saying this is the end all, be all answer,” Willets said. “There could be a lot of things contributing to it, this could be one of them.”

Emmitsburg residents made comment at the meeting, expressing their concerns with the issue which was initially reported in October 2019 .

Eric Hewitt lives in Emmitsburg and said he’s afraid of the health implications that could come later after months and years of people drinking the town’s water.

“Are we all going to end up having some medical problems at the end of it?” he said. “Because it can’t be healthy.”

Willets said the Emmitsburg water comes within the standard levels set by both the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE).

“That’s why there’s not been any health concerns from MDE or EPA,” Willets said. “However, it is not aesthetically pleasing at all. I’m the first to agree with that.”

In a meeting earlier in January, Town Commissioner T.J. Burns said water taxes and bills would likely go up if the town needed the funds to fix any further infrastructure issues with the water lines.

According to the presentation, the estimated cost to fix 1,000 linear feet of water lines would be about $300,000 which would include the piping, process, paving, and traffic flagging.

Commissioners will meet again on February 3 to discuss possible funding for more pipeline work in the future.

By Timothy Young