Strasburg to vote on water tank ventilation purchase

STRASBURG — The Strasburg Town Council will be voting on whether or not to purchase a ventilation system for a town water tank after some disinfectant byproducts reached levels close to the limits set by the Virginia Department of Health.

In a Town Council work session on Monday, Jay McKinley, Director of Public Works, said that the average level of trihalomethanes (THMs) in the town’s water throughout the year has gotten close to levels set by the Virginia Department of Health. McKinley said that purchasing a ventilation system for a water tank near the town’s business park could cut the levels down by 60 percent.

“According to the health department, excessive disinfectant byproduct exposure over a long period of time may cause chronic health conditions, so this is something that we need to take seriously,” McKinley said.

According to Town Manager Wyatt Pearson, some of the reason the town had high levels of the byproducts is because there are few businesses in the town’s business industrial park.

The byproducts build up when water stays in the tank for longer periods of time and when the temperature rises, he and McKinley said. Because there aren’t many businesses using the water in the large tank, water has been staying inside the tank for fairly long periods of time and the disinfectants have been building up.

“This probably wouldn’t be as big of an issue if we were pulling water out of [the tank] more often,” Pearson said.

McKinley said that the ventilation system, designed to remove the byproducts from the tank, would cost the town around $130,000. He said that he wants the town to purchase the system, taking money out of the town’s reserve fund and out of its contingency fund.

That would leave the town with $20,000 in its contingency fund through the end of June, leaving council member Don LeVine to criticize what he sees as the town’s often-depleted contingency fund.

“I think that staff has to rethink, ‘Are we setting aside enough money in the contingency fund?'” LeVine said.

But council members were largely supportive of the proposed purchase. Council member Shirley Maddox, for instance, described the move as a public health necessity.

“I think that we would be derelict in our duty if we did not do something as quickly as possible,” Maddox said.