Charlestown officials agreed they will hold a special workshop session and an executive session later this month to go over a number of issues that came up during Tuesday night’s town meeting.
The board said they want to wait until board president, Joseph Letts, was back in town before they talked about the budget and some other issues.
The closed session will be to discuss the interactions between the town’s water plant operators, Miller Environmental, and the town’s maintenance department.
Charlestown Commissioner Jeffery Fields initiated a discussion of maintenance issues at the water plant, calling Miller Environmental officials to discuss a list of issues that was distributed to other board members.
Josh Griffith of Miller Environmental, who holds the proper credentials to operate the town water plant, expressed concern that town maintenance workers are making adjustments to chemical feeds and making alterations to plant hardware without contacting him for his approval and directions.
James Troutman, of Miller Environmental, said the installation of a stainless steel pipe that handles chlorine is unacceptable since the proper piping for that material should be plastic because the stainless steel reacts with the chlorine and there are now leaks in that line.
While the leaks have been minor, Griffth said that if a three-quarter inch line experiences a total collapse, it would be termed catastrophic because it could drain 400,000 gallons of water from the town’s water tank in 24-hours. It would probably not take that long to repair the leak, Griffith said, but the leak would flood the plant and create a dangerous situation for workers there to repair the problem.
“If it has to be a plastic pipe, let’s get it done,” said Town Commissioner Loucretia Wood, board vice president. She was running the meeting in the absence of Town President Joseph Letts.
The Miller Environmental report said that the failure of a soda ash line for several hours had dropped the PH in the water tower from 7.2 to 6.9 late last year.
In all, Griffith went over a half dozen points of concern between Miller Environmental and the town maintenance department. This included some personal conflicts and alleged comments, but town board members said these issues need to be discussed in a closed session.
“Is any of this against the law?” Commissioner Fields asked.
Troutman said that when the maintenance department does anything to the water plant operation without consulting with Miller Environmental’s approval, it is a clear violation of Maryland Department of the Environment regulations. All work must be done or approved through someone who is a certified operator, he stressed.
There was also concern that some materials needed for quick repairs at the water plant are now being locked in the town’s maintenance building. Town officials agreed this situation will be remedied.
Town administrator Wib Pumpaly said he was not given the list of maintenance issues presented at the town meeting, saying he intends to go through them, item by item.
“I would like the opportunity to respond,” Pumpaly said, adding that a year ago, conditions in the water tower were “atrocious” and that any work in the water plant has been done master plumbers by one of the three plumbing firms that work for the town.