Updated: Kennett Square’s water gets OK after tests

Many residents did not get the ‘boil water’ notice; some may still be without full pressure

By Rick Marts, Correspondent, The Times


Kennett Square Borough Manager Brant Kucera provides the Council with the timeline and status of the water main break that occurred late Saturday, September 13

KENNETT SQUARE — After the pledge of allegiance at Monday night’s meeting of Kennett Square Borough’s Council, Council President Leon Spencer asked Borough Manager Brant Kucera to provide a status report on the water main break that occurred over the weekend.

Officials said Wednesday that the tests on the water showed it was safe to drink.

Kucera reported that while diligent efforts by the Borough’s Public Works Department, especially its chief, Joe Scalise, have repaired the rupture, many homes are still without normal water pressure. Moreover, Kucera said, “The results of sampling and testing for bacteria, as required by law, will not be available until 8 a.m., Tuesday morning. He said that after the repair and the system is recharged, two samples must be taken no less than 12 hours apart.

Kucera said he is confident, however, that the water is safe, and said that the results will be posted on the Borough’s Facebook page and website (www.kennett-square.pa.us/calendar-events)

Kucera said the cause of the break is still under investigation.

Despite the Borough’s best efforts to inform its residents of the health threat posed by the water main break, some, if not many, residents did not receive the “boil water alert” that was supposed to be distributed to all residences. At Monday’s meeting, several residents rose to express their concerns about how the Borough handled the emergency.

John Thomas of 406 S. Broad St. spoke at Monday’s Council meeting, saying, “I did not get the notice saying not to use the water unless it is boiled. The alert system did not work right—I know others who did not know about not using the water. There has to be a better communication system.”

Shannon Bullock also asked about the notice, saying, “We have a large Hispanic population in the Borough—was the notice sent out bilingually?”

Tony Talamonti expressed his concern by saying, “It’s hard to believe that the whole borough has to be shut down for one broken pipe. Is there going to be a plan to better isolate the problem so that water services to the whole borough do not have to be shut down?”

To address these and other concerns, Kucera offered several explanations. First, he said that alerting most residents in a timely fashion was the paramount concern. “While we have two people on our staff who are bilingual, neither was available in time to translate the notice we delivered to all residents’ front doors.”

Kucera also said that the key valves controlling water flow at the point of the break could not be discovered because they might be covered by concrete or the drawings of the system infrastructure were faulty. For this reason, the entire system had to be drained in order to make the repair, which accounts for the widespread impact on so many people.

Because many people were not contacted about the boil water alert, Kucera is requested that the Council mandate that all residents be part of a communication system that reaches all residents in a timely manner. This system is called “Swift Reach,” and Council President Spencer described it as a “sort of reverse 911.” He said, “Swift Reach would send a robo call to all subscribers to the local phone system to alert them of civic emergencies.”

In other business from Monday’s meeting, the Council approved

• Appointing John Borden and Katrina MacLeod to the Historical Commission,
• Making the required payments to the borough’s pension fund for its uniformed and non-uniformed employees, and
• Renewing its agreement with PennDOT for the state to reimburse the Borough for snow plowing Rt. 82, a state-owned road.

In his President’s Report, Spencer noted that this is Homecoming Week at Kennett High School and residents should be aware of an elevated level of activities occurring in the vicinity of the school near South and Union Streets.

Spencer thanked John Thomas for stepping up to direct traffic at the scene of an auto accident until police arrived. He also thanked Kennett Township Police Chief Albert McCarthy for assisting Borough police at a crime scene this weekend while borough police were occupied with an earlier incident.

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