Sussex Borough residents can feel more secure about the water they drink thanks to yet another grant to help the municipality improve its water-delivery system.
Mayor Katherine Little, a Democrat, announced Thursday that the state had awarded Sussex a $400,000 grant from the Small Cities Community Development Block Grant Program to help pay for a pipeline directly from the Lake Rutherford reservoir to the water-processing plant on Route 23.
Currently water passes through the Colesville settling pond, picking up organic matter on its way to the plant. Treating that water creates significant levels of trihalomethanes (THMs), which the DEP says can cause serious health issues when ingested long term.
The state grant is the third infusion of public funds into the borough’s plan to improve its water delivery. In December 2015 the state awarded a Small Cities grant, also of $400,000 to repair a dam at Lake Rutherford, and in July the federal government kicked in $360,000 to help replace water meters.
To move forward the Borough must get approvals, including to go through High Point State Park and protected agricultural land, but construction is expected to start by the end of this year.
Building the pipeline is the latest victory in an effort to provide safe water, overseen by public officials, in Sussex Borough. In 2014 some Borough officials wanted to relegate water to a private company but voters shot the measure down in a referendum.
Shortly thereafter, the state passed a law allowing municipalities to bypass a public vote under certain conditions. However, the sale never went through, and the Borough remains in charge of its water supply.