Dirty water plagues users

B y Krystle S. Morey

Several North Granville residents were plagued with dirty tap water last week after a local nursing facility flushed its system – and this wasn’t the first time.
The Orchard Nursing and Rehab Center in North Granville does a routine test of its sprinkler system quarterly, town officials said, and the dirty-water problem could be prevented if the facility would simply tell the town when the flushing would occur.
When the Orchard does its flushing, the increased amount of water pressure forces the silt and dirt that exists in the water pipes out of people’s faucets.
Granville Supervisor Matt Hicks said dirty water is preventable, if The Orchard would simply notify the town before it flushes its system.

The water at Jennifer Mcdonald's house in North Granville was a dirty brown color last week.

The water at Jennifer Mcdonald’s house in North Granville was a dirty brown color last week.

“If they let us know, we can turn the pumps off to negate that pressure,” he said. “We are just frustrated with the fact that The Orchard won’t give us the courtesy of letting us know when they are going to be doing this.”
“That’s a reasonable request,” said Janice Doughman, The Orchard’s executive director, who agreed to notify the town in the future.
Doughman said the sprinkler flushing is part of an inspection that’s required by both state and fire regulations.
“It just ensures that in the event of a fire that our sprinklers are going to go off and operate appropriately,” Doughman said.
She apologized Monday for the inconvenience.
“We do want to be good neighbors,” Doughman said, promising that The Orchard will notify town officials in the future.
“We know we have to do it quarterly,” she added. “We just have to communicate with the township.”
Several water users called the town to complain about murky water last week. It started running through faucets last Thursday. Doughman, who received both phone calls and a visit from an unhappy water user last week, said this was the first time the issue had been brought to her attention.
Jennifer Mcdonald, who lives just down the road from nursing home on Route 22, said she is tired of the inconvenience.
Mcdonald and her family were unable to shower, cook or do dishes from Thursday, the day The Orchard flushed its system, until Sunday, when the problem finally subsided.
“It was dark brown yesterday (last Thursday),” Mcdonald said.
She had to travel to her mother-in-law’s home in Whitehall to get clean water, so she, her husband and her two children could at least brush their teeth and cook with clean water.
Mcdonald said when The Orchard flushed its system once before, a load of her white-colored laundry was stained in the washer.
Jeremy Hicks, who lives two doors down from The Orchard on Route 40, said he wasn’t worried about the issue last Friday because he has his own well.
“It seems to be clean,” he said, regarding his home’s water.
Supervisor Hicks said the town has spoken to Orchard officials on the phone and sent numerous letters in an effort to resolve the issue.
“It happens all of the time,” Supervisor Hicks said. “This has been going on for years.”

The Orchard in North Granville

The Orchard in North Granville

“All we need is some notice that they are going to do this, because they have to do it at regular intervals, so I am sure they know when they are going to be doing it,” Supervisor Hicks said, recognizing that the facility has had some transitions in leadership.
Both Ed Joy, who oversees maintenance at The Orchard, and Doughman are fairly new to the facility. This is Joy’s first quarter, and it will be a year in September since Doughman started there.
“Next time he is calling the township,” Doughman said of Joy.
Supervisor Hicks was pleased with Doughman and Joy’s efforts to ensure future flushings do not cause an issue.
The next system flush will be scheduled for some time in November, Joy said. The Orchard invited town officials to visit the facility to observe how the flushing is done.
Supervisor Hicks said he’ll probably send Marc Kretzer and Eric Towne from the Granville Highway Department to check out the process.
The North Granville Water District earlier this year applied for a $1 million Community Development Block Grant which, if awarded, could help solve this issue.
“If we get the grant … we will put new infrastructure in which will eliminate this problem,” Supervisor Hicks said.
When the town held a public forum to discuss the grant and system upgrades, a few of the 240 North Granville Water users spoke up about the murky water caused by The Orchard. One resident said the town should fine the nursing home if it does not notify the town in advance.
Mcdonald agrees.
“I think they should be penalized,” she said. “They need to give people a heads-up as to when this is going to happen.”
Supervisor Hicks said the town does not have the regulations that could be adapted to include any sort of fine.

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