Emmitsburg Water Supply Under Oath

May 22, 2007 at 6:49 am | Posted in Emmitsburg, Laying it the line ;-), water line | Leave a comment

Question: “Was this enacted by an actual vote by the majority of Commissioners?”

From todays NewsPost

“Municipal officials to testify under oath

County wants more information when towns ask for water, sewer hookups

News-Post Staff

The Frederick County commissioners will require municipal officials to testify under oath about the water and sewer capabilities of their jurisdictions before the commissioners proceed with a review of the countywide water and sewer plan.
County commissioner John L. Thompson Jr. suggested the requirement during a Monday worksession in order to make local officials accountable for their statements.
The county is supposed to evaluate the sewer and water plan every three years, but has not reviewed it since 2002. The plan dictates the county’s expansion of water and sewer. It also includes the expansion plans of the municipalities.
In the past, Thompson said, municipal officials have not properly researched the capabilities of their systems before proposing new hookups.
He cited recent problems with water or sewer in Emmitsburg, Thurmont, Woodsboro, Frederick, Mount Airy and Brunswick to show municipal officials’ need to do better planning.
As a county commissioner, Thompson said, he has witnessed many municipal officials without enough information asking for bigger systems.
Woodsboro Burgess Donald Trimmer went before the commissioners several years ago to ask for approval of a water system expansion for a new development, Thompson said. The commissioners asked if there was enough water capability. Trimmer said he didn’t know.
That wasn’t acceptable to Thompson, but Trimmer still stands by his answer. Woodsboro depends on groundwater, and he doesn’t know exactly how much is underground.
“I don’t think anybody does,” Trimmer said. “Do you know how much water is in the ground?”
Trimmer has been an elected official for 14 years, and in his experience, the municipal officials around the county have done a good job planning water and sewer. He said Woodsboro uses only half its sewer capacity.
When officials are ignorant or unwilling to plan properly, Thompson said, the Maryland Department of the Environment issues consent orders requiring towns to repair water or sewer systems — at taxpayer expense. He said proper planning would have precluded the water and sewer problems the majority of Frederick municipalities are suffering.
Trimmer said Woodsboro has no consent orders from the MDE, but it did before the new sewer plant was built three years ago.
Mount Airy is under a consent order from MDE, but councilman John Woodhull has said its overuse of water was due to leaky pipes that have since been fixed. The town has decided to launch a $187,000 well exploration project.
The county commissioners will require written statements from leading municipal officials, including a worksheet detailing designed capacity, reserves for public structures, maximum daily demand for service and contractual obligations to provide service not on the system.
If the worksheet does not show enough capacity, then improvement requests should be denied and not included in the countywide plan, Thompson said.
But even requiring that information to be provided under oath may not be enough.
Middletown recently proposed an expansion, and the Maryland Department of the Environment rightly turned it down because there simply isn’t enough water, Thompson said.
“I wouldn’t believe town council if they said anything about water,” Thompson said. “Even under oath.”



RE: The worksheet mentioned above.

All municipalities should complete a “Water Supply Capacity Management Plan” (WSCMP).
Municipalities under Consent Decrees MUST complete the worksheet in this document every year in November and submit it to the MDE.
Link to pdf: http://www.mde.state.md.us/assets/document/water/WaterSupplyCapacityPlansGuidance.pdf

This document allows Municipalities to calculate their ability to serve their present customers and to serve approved development under “worst case conditions” such as the 2002 drought.

It allows them to project just how many excess water taps they have available. This prevents them from approving development in excess of their ability to service present and future customers.

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