The newly sworn-in Garrett County Commissioners unanimously approved a resolution of the Garrett County Water and Sewer Master Plan following a public hearing Tuesday.
In August, the previous commissioners deferred approval of the plan pending more specific notifications regarding potential ad valorem tax rates for customers and that other details be clarified.
“We are behind schedule on this,” said Patrick Hudnall, administration and environmental chief of the Garrett County Department of Public Works Utilities Division.
Commission chairman Paul Edwards noted that the approval of the plan took the weight off the municipalities that were looking for funding. Grants for sewer and water needs can’t be obtained from the state until the plan is approved, according to Jim Hinebaugh, commissioner.
The next steps in the plan include submitting it to the Maryland Department of the Environment and they have six months to approve, disapprove or approve in part, according to Clive Graham, principal consultant with ERM, who has been developing the plan.
“Once the plan is in then I think they would feel more comfortable funding projects. Having this plan go in should have the county and the municipalities in good shape for upcoming grants,” said Graham.
Lindsey Williams, a part-time resident and former planner, echoed the commissioners’ sentiments.
“The plan should probably have been adopted by the previous board of commissioners,” said Williams.
Williams suggested that the county utilities division should identify points of risk and the water and sewer districts and have some type of plan in place in case another incident like Deep Creek Drive happens again.
“The biggest concern I have is with the district that serves the lake area, and the reason for that, in some sort of breach the lake itself would be contaminated to the extent that it would no longer be the economic engine it is for the county,” said Williams.
Last month, there was a sewer leak at a lakeside McHenry home and it was determined that the anti-siphon valve in the grinder basin and the check valve at the sewer main had failed, causing a 1,740-gallon leak during the overflow. The county utilities division repaired them to prevent any further overflow.
“I look at that as a sort of wakeup call to say what other vulnerabilities are there in the system that we need to know about,” said Williams.
In October, the previous commissioners approved an amendment to the Mountain Lake Park/Loch Lynn Heights sewer service area in the plan.
Former Commissioner Jim Raley previously said customers in the Keysers Ridge area whose well water was contaminated by salt from state property will be most affected by the tax rate. Those residents could pay about 43 cents more for service.
A new 200,000-gallon, steel glass-lined water storage tank is being designed for the Keysers Ridge Business Park and interchange area, according to the plan. The new tank will be constructed on a 0.62-acre site west of the Keysers Ridge interchange along U.S. Route 219.
MDE did comment on the source water from Keysers Ridge but the comments were received too late to include them in the plan, according to Graham.
Following a public hearing, the commissioners also approved a resolution of the 10-Year Solid Waste Management Plan. Just like the water and sewer plan, waste management plan will go back to MDE for final approval. Wilfred Hebden filed a lawsuit against the commissioners and MDE in regards to the waste management plan. The lawsuit was dismissed by former Circuit Court Judge Jim Sherbin several months ago, according to Monty Pagenhardt, county administrator. Hebden resubmitted the same lawsuit documents to the county in regards to the plan.
(Article courtesy of Elaine Blaisdell at firstname.lastname@example.org.)