Town of Bethany Beach needs a new water tower!
community needs a new water tower in order to ensure our water
remains safe to drink and to ensure we are able to deliver water in
the event of an emergency. The need for a new water tower, combined
with an extraordinary opportunity to receive a long-term loan at
less than 3% interest from the State of Delaware, creates a
situation where the Town would be able to build a second water tower
with no increase in water rates!
next few pages we talk about the history of our water system, who we
provide water to, discuss the current water system, alternatives to
a water tower and why we need a second, additional water tower. We
will outline possible locations for a tower, the costs associated
with each and finally how the Town will pay for this project.
do we serve and how do our water rates compare with other local
Town provides water to 2,877 customers in Bethany Beach. The Town
also provides water to an additional 679 customers outside of
Bethany Beach in the communities of Savannah’s Landing and the Salt
Pond as a result of agreements the Town entered into with those
communities prior to them being built.
Town’s water usage rates are the best in area. An average year round
resident uses 40,000 gallons of water in a year. Using 40,000
gallons as a measure, a Bethany Beach resident pays $338 a year
(including the Water Bond Sinking Fee), an Ocean View resident pays
$619, a Sea Colony resident $505 and other surrounding developments
Town’s water rates are low because the Town closely monitors and
manages the financial aspects of its water system. Unlike many
governments that mix and mingle revenues from different sources, the
Town’s water system is a stand-alone enterprise fund whose total
revenue pays only for expenses directly related to the water
system itself. The Town does not use fees and revenues collected for
its water system to fund anything else in Town government!
History of our water system
Bethany Beach began its water service to the community in 1951. In
1952, the Town constructed its first water tower at the site of the
Town Hall. That tower was capable of holding 100,000 gallons of
water and the tower was 100’ tall.
Demands on the system grew and in 1980 the Town constructed a new
water storage tower (standpipe) that was capable of holding
1,000,000 million gallons of water. This standpipe was not a typical
water tower where water is contained in an overhead bulb, but rather
a design called a standpipe which is simply a cylindrical
tower (in our instance the dimensions of the cylinder are 38’ wide,
120’ tall) holding water from its base at ground level to the top of
the cylinder at 120 feet.
Standpipes are generally gravity-based water storage devices,
traditionally built in hilly or mountainous areas, and standpipes
are traditionally constructed at elevations significantly higher
than the communities they serve. Gravity pulls water from the base
of the elevated standpipe and delivers water into the system. In a
traditional standpipe installation if you turned your faucet on and
did not replenish the water in the standpipe you could drain the
standpipe dry. The entire million gallons in the standpipe would
simply run out.
1980, Bethany Beach made the unusual choice to build a standpipe in
one of Delaware’s “flattest” communities instead of a traditional
water tower. Because the base of our one million gallon, 120’ tall
standpipe is built at the same elevation as the rest of the
community it serves, gravity can only pull water from the top 30’ of
the tower. Only 250,000 gallons of the 1,000,000 gallons of water in
the standpipe is deliverable at acceptable levels of water pressure.
Acceptable water pressure means that it doesn’t take an hour for the
tank in your toilet to refill after it has been flushed or that
there is enough water pressure at the fire hydrant close to your
home to fight a fire.
standpipe was built at a site the Town had acquired for the purpose
of constructing a water tower and support structures for that water
tower. This is the site of our current water plant located between
Collins Street and Lekites Avenue.
WATER TREATMENT PLANT
that we pull from our wells comes from the only aquifers available
to us. This water, raw as it comes from the ground, contains
excessive iron and natural organic matter and is corrosive. These
problems with our raw water created a need for the Town to process
and treat its water. In 1990, the main components of our water
treatment system and water plant were constructed to deal with these
issues. An aerator, clarifying pond, mineral retention ponds, a
water processing building containing high lift pumps, chemical
injection systems, clearwell and other treatment and processing
systems were constructed on the Collins Street property. The water
system and treatment facility at Collins Street has had no other
significant construction or improvements since 1990.
DO WE NEED ANOTHER WATER TOWER?
age, how “old” the water is that comes out of our faucets, is not
something that many us give much thought to, but the age of the
water in our water system is a serious problem for our community.
When we speak of water age we are talking about the length of time
between the water first being touched by chlorine and the time it
actually runs out of the faucet in the users home.
water, like most potable water in the civilized world, is treated
with chlorine. When chlorine interacts with natural organic matter
it produces both the chemical triaholmethane and haloacetic acids in
proportion to the amount of natural organic matter it comes in
are literally hundreds of chemicals created when water is treated
with disinfectants but triaholmethane and haloacetic acids are among
those most closely regulated and they have been linked to birth
defects and cancer.
our raw water has an excessive amount of natural organic matter when
it is pumped from our wells, after it is first treated with chlorine
and sent into our water system, it has a high level of
trihaolmethane and halaocetic acid, but is still well within any
federal or state standards.
But now the real problem occurs; the longer water sits in the system
exposed to chlorine, the more trihalomethane and halaocetic acids
age is a problem with many seasonal communities because homes sit
vacant during the off season and water sits in the system for long
periods of time. Many seasonal communities with similar problems
with their raw water supplies are able to effectively deal with
those problems. But Bethany Beach has a huge obstacle to overcome
when dealing with water age and that is the previously mentioned
standpipe at the Collins Street Water Plant.
will recall that we said only 250,000 gallons of the 1 million
gallons in the standpipe is usable in the system. Essentially the
bottom 750,000 gallons of water in the standpipe hold the top
250,000 gallons at an elevation where it can be used. Not being able
to exchange or rotate new water for older water, not being able to
decrease the amount of water in the standpipe to a reasonable level
of 200,000 or 300,000 gallons combined with the excessive amount of
natural organic matter in our raw water create a significant problem
for our water system!
2005, the Town of Bethany Beach was actually cited by the State of
Delaware for having amounts of triahalomethane in its water system
that were over 175% above legal limits. The Town was mandated to
notify all homeowners by letter of the citation and began to
aggressively attack the water age issue.
first thing the Town did was to modify its chlorine application at
the water plant. Next it began a practice that continues to this
day, opening fire hydrants throughout the system and “flushing” the
system. In any given year the Town flushes over 4 million gallons
of water in order to ensure that we have no issues with the chemical
by-products of our disinfection process.
measure this wasting of 4 million gallons of our processed and
treated water is wasteful and environmentally unsound! However, it
is the only solution that exists today in order to keep the water in
our system fresh.
the citing in 2005 and with new procedures in place, the Town has
had no issues with the quality of its water.
The State of Delaware and the Town itself constantly measure that
have, with a band-aid fix, dealt with our water age problem but the
problem needs to corrected and properly dealt with. The Town has
studied and reviewed potential solutions and has eliminated all but
one and that is a water tower.
ALTERNATIVES TO A WATER TOWER CONSIDERED
hydropnuematic tank system with a pump station, a ground storage
tank with a pump station, and a stand-alone pump house have all been
considered as solutions to the Town’s issues with water age.
these solutions would allow the Town to pull water out of the base
of standpipe, allowing the Town to keep much smaller amounts of
water in the standpipe alleviating water age problems. These
solutions, at a minimum, would require structures of anywhere
between 1,200 and 2,500 sq. feet on ground space at the Town’s water
plant, and would be technically complicated and electric dependent.
All of these solutions would be expensive, albeit not as expensive
as constructing a new water tower.
A WATER TOWER IS OUR BEST SOLUTION
engineers recommend that the Town construct a new, second, water
tower at the Collins Street Water Plant. It is recommended that the
tower hold 500,000 gallons of water and that our water system be
designed to allow both the existing standpipe and the new tower to
work together or separately depending on the needs of the system and
the time of year.
design recommendation fulfills a number of critical needs:
Age – first and foremost a water tower capable of holding 500,000
gallons of water and operating independently of the standpipe
off-season, completely eliminates all issues with the age of our
stored water. The amount of water stored in an overhead water tower,
of the type our engineer has recommended we build, can be controlled
to the gallon.
Redundancy and Failsafe – Today if we have a significant mechanical
problem or failure with the standpipe requiring extensive repair,
there is no Town back up system to deliver water to our water
system. If this problem occurs off-season, we would hope to
establish an interconnection with a neighboring community’s water
service until the problem was repaired or corrected. Should a
problem occur during the summer season, an interconnection meeting
the Town’s water needs would be impossible. A new water tower
guarantees that either the new tower or the existing standpipe can
be placed into service independently until repairs are made or
issues resolved and the system restored.
Regulatory Requirements –The State of Delaware recommends, but does
not require at this time, that the Town of Bethany Beach have a
minimum of 1.3 million gallons of water on hand and available 24
hours-a-day during the summer season. A second water tower holding
500,000 gallons of water, used in conjunction with our existing
standpipe, allows the Town to meet that regulatory requirement.
Because of the large amount of water the community uses during the
summer season, using the standpipe as part of our system is not a
WHERE WOULD A NEW TOWER BE CONSTRUCTED?
different locations have been considered for placement of a second
the Collins Street
Water Plant where associated costs would be $2.6 million
property where the costs would be $3.96 million
the Town’s Public
Works Yard where the costs would be $5.4 million
recent Special Town Council Meeting the Bethany Beach Town Council
voted to select the Collins Street Water Plant as the location for
the new water tower; the least expensive ($2.6 million) of the
options available to the Town.
WILL THE TOWN PAY FOR A NEW WATER TOWER?
1980 The Town of Bethany Beach has paid for the major components of
its water system infrastructure through a separate fee that property
owners pay with their May tax bills.The fee on the tax bill is
called “Water Bond Sinking Fund” because the two major water
system infrastructure enhancements the Town has made since 1980 were
paid for with municipal bond issues.
first bond issue in 1980 was for $875,000 and paid for the
construction of the Towns’ standpipe. This bond issue was paid off
in 2007. The second bond issue for 3.6 million dollars was in 1989
and paid for the construction of the Town’s water plant facility and
other costs related to that construction. The 1989 bond issue will
be paid off in November of 2014
Water Bond Sinking Fund fee itself is based on the front footage of
a taxpayer’s property with a minimum charge based on 50 feet of
frontage. The fee has varied in the past; the fee has been as high
as $1.70 per frontal foot and is currently $1.07. This means the
average homeowner in Bethany Beach pays $53.50 a year to the Water
Bond Sinking Fund.
previously mentioned, the Town will retire all of its
Water Bond Sinking Fund debt in November 2014. This would allow the
Town to borrow money for a new water tower without increasing the
fee that property owners pay for the Water Bond Sinking Fund!
retirement of this debt comes at a time when the Town has an
opportunity to take advantage of a loan offered by the State of
Delaware to enhance water systems throughout the State. The loan is
offered by the Delaware Division of Public Health and allows the
Town to borrow money for enhancements to the Town’s water system at
a rate that is 62.5% of the prevailing municipal rate. The loan that
Bethany Beach would apply for would have a 20-year term and a rate
less than 3% (we believe closer to 2.5%).
loan amount of $2.6 million, a 20-year term, and a rate of 3% or
less the Town could even lower the Water Bond Sinking Fund from its
current rate of $1.07 per frontal foot to $.76 if the Town wanted to
pay the loan for a 20-year term. But since there is no penalty for
prepayment on this loan, if the Water Bond Sinking Fund is kept at
its current rate of $1.07, the Town would be able to pay the loan
off in 13 years and save over $320,000 in interest!
THE TOWN NEEDS YOUR SUPPORT AND VOTE ON SEPTEMBER 8TH TO
BUILD A NEW WATER TOWER
have spoken about the history of our water system, its current
condition, why we need a new water tower, and how we can pay for
that tower. What the Town needs now is your support to move this
worthwhile project forward.
their wisdom, the Town’s founders made sure that Town government
could not borrow large sums of money or borrow those large sums for
long terms without voter approval.
the term of the loan we have discussed is for 20 years, voters will
have an opportunity to vote on a referendum to borrow money to pay
for this project in a voter referendum to be held the same date as
the Town’s annual general election, September 8th.
citizens eligible to vote in a general election are eligible to vote
on this referendum issue. There will be absentee balloting and the
polls will be open from 12 pm until 6pm on September 8th
for those choosing to vote in person.
ballot item regarding this issue will read:
“ The Town Council proposes
to borrow an amount not to exceed $2,600,000 at an interest rate of
less than 3% from the Division of Public Health, Office of Drinking
Water, State Revolving Fund for the purpose of construction of a new
water tower within the Town of Bethany Beach.
( ) For the proposed
( ) Against the proposed
strongly encourage you to vote “For the proposed borrowing”!!
know this mailing may raise a number of questions and in order to
accommodate that interest, the Town will be hosting a Special
Meeting on Saturday, August 11 at 10 am in the Bethany Beach Town
Hall. Please plan on attending if you have any interest in the
Town’s Water System or the proposed financing for the Town’s new
addition, please do not hesitate to contact the Town Manager’s
Office if you should have questions about any information presented
in this mailing. You may speak to the Town Manager directly or make
an appointment to meet with him. Staff can be contacted by calling
302-537-3771 or by emailing
Town Manager's Office
Town of Bethany Beach
214 Garfield Parkway
Bethany Beach, DE 19930