It was easy for former Hagerstown Mayor Steve Sager to dismiss talk of a regional water/sewer agency as a crackpot scheme when the only ones pushing it were the Washington County Commissioners. It won't be so easy now that the idea has been raised the Maryland Department of the Environment.
We stand by our original comment on this issue: Trust between the two governments needs to be built step-by-step before any merger takes place.
Sager's take on any proposed merger has always been that because the county has a smaller number of customers to cover its debt, merging county operations (and their debt) with the city's would mean customers served by the city would see their bills go up.
On the other side is J.L. Hearn, director of the Water management Administration, who notes that while the county's Conococheague Wastewater Treatment Plant is "significantly underutilized," the city is planning to add capacity at its plant. Future grants, Hearn said, will focus on cost-effective use of sewer service.