Over the past few months the Denmark water system has been maligned and criticized; there have been charges ranging from occasional discolored water from the tap to the entire water supply being unsafe for consumption.
The facts reveal a much different picture, and the city’s proactive approach toward the future promises a positive outcome that should satisfy even the most hard-boiled critic.
The fact is that the Denmark water supply is safe.
This fact has been confirmed repeatedly by key regulators, including the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (which has been given regulatory authority over municipal water systems throughout the state).
Denmark’s water supply meets the standards of the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, and no citizen should be concerned about adverse health effects resulting from drinking Denmark water.
But there is another fact: while it is safe, Denmark’s water system is aging.
And with that age comes a slow breakdown of components: rusting pipes, failed pumps and deteriorating water tanks all contribute to challenges in the water distribution system. These conditions can sometime result in temporarily discolored water that must be remedied by flushing the system.
When it comes to aging water systems, Denmark is not alone.; most of South Carolina’s municipal water systems are facing similar challenges. Like Denmark many of these local water systems are more than 75 years old. They have outlived their design life, and they need to be modernized.
That’s exactly what Denmark is doing.
We are taking proactive steps to bring our local water system into the 21st century.
To restore public confidence, we need a new water system with the latest technology, new piping, state-of-the-art pumps and fresh tanks.
In short Denmark needs an upgrade to deliver that most crucial commodity: water.
We’re hard at work on this problem now.
Last month the Denmark City Council approved a $332,146 contract for water line replacement in parts of the city. The city is also advertising for bids to rehabilitate two aging water tanks by using funding from the South Carolina Drinking Water State Revolving Fund.
These are the latest steps in a comprehensive long-term plan that will include the replacement of water mains on a prioritized basis throughout the water system.
· One of our four current wells has been abandoned; three others, meanwhile, are being upgraded.
· A new 400 gallons-per-minute well will be added to the system, as well as a new 500,000-gallon elevated storage tank.
· Automated flushing devices will be installed in key locations throughout the water system, greatly enhancing our ability to reduce or eliminate discoloration.
In short a lot of positive things are in the works to improve Denmark’s water system, but we recognize that we need to do a better job of communicating these improvements — and our plans — to our residents. That’s why a new website will go live soon to provide regular updates on the status of the water system.
In the meantime, be assured that we are hard at work on this issue — and that Denmark’s water supply remains safe for daily use.
Gerald Wright is the mayor of Denmark.