Sept. 9, 2010 FNP: Green Water Issues Tap Investigations

Three locations in Frederick were hit with green water in the past 10 days.

At about 2 p.m. Sept. 2, Deputy Garrison Commander Eileen Mitchell informed the city that fluorescent green water coming from the post’s wastewater treatment plant was showing up in the Monocacy River.

Last week, pools at Hood College on Rosemont Avenue and the YMCA on North Market Street filled with green water.

The pool water and Fort Detrick’s discharge are unconnected, city officials said.

Fort Detrick’s wastewater system is not connected to Frederick’s water system, said Marc Stachowski, city public works director.

Stachowski said he could not explain the YMCA incident until he sees test results.

“Without test results, whatever I say could be conjecture and without the facts that will be doing the citizens a disservice,” Stachowski said.

The pool water comes through the city’s portable fresh water system, which comes from the Monocacy River, upstream from the fort’s wastewater treatment plant, Stachowski said.

“Green water here doesn’t equal green water there,” said Daniel Seal, Frederick’s water quality supervisor.

Routine annual maintenance at the YMCA includes emptying and refilling the pool.

The water was “very green” when it was replaced last week, YMCA President and CEO Daria Steinhardt said Wednesday.

“While the chemical readings were spot-on, we had to shock our pool with chlorine on Monday, Aug. 30, and keep it closed when the entire facility reopened,” Steinhardt said. “We had to do this as a safety issue due to the fact that we could not see the drain.”

The YMCA’s pools have been treated and are safe, Steinhardt said.

“We had more questions than answers after hearing that Hood College had to close their pool for the same issues,” Steinhardt said.

Hood College experienced a similar green water incident on Aug. 31.

As staff filled the pool to bring the water up to the necessary level, the water was initially rusty brown. As it mixed with the other water in the pool it took on a greenish hue, said Ilene Liszka, Hood’s associate director for marketing and communications.

The pool was closed Aug. 31 and Sept. 1 while chlorine was added and filters cleared the water.

Green water in a pool is commonly related to iron in the water and when chlorine is applied a green tint results. The source of iron is the pipes, Seal said.

“No one had green tap water or water that is green in a glass or anything like that,” Seal said.

In Detrick’s case, workers from the water department were dispatched to the wastewater treatment plant to ensure the city’s intakes were not affected, Mayor Randy McClement said in an e-mail Wednesday.

The city also offered assistance to the fort if needed and placed treatment plants on alert for unusual activity and closely monitored water sources, the mayor said.

McClement said Fort Detrick has sampled the discharge. As of Wednesday, the city had not yet heard anything from the Army post.

On Wednesday, Chuck Gordon, Fort Detrick’s public affairs officer, said the military installation is working cooperatively with the Environmental Protection Agency, Maryland Department of the Environment, Frederick city and county, and other agencies to investigate the green water.

“Currently, the source of the coloration is under investigation and all routine tests indicate that the water is safe. We have sent samples for further analysis and anticipate results as early as Monday,” Gordon said.

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