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Bowers says city can solve sewage problems

July 26, 1998|By JULIE E. GREENE

Washington County Commissioner Ronald L. Bowers said Hagerstown could fix its sewage problems, such as pumping raw sewage into Hamilton Run, if it cooperated with the county.

Bowers said the sewage being pumped into the streams during periods of heavy rain includes sewage from county residents in Maugansville, Orchard Hills and Fountain Head and is sewage that should go to the county's underutilized Conococheague Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Even when the city fixes the North End sewage collection system, the city's sewer plant won't have enough capacity to treat that sewage, he said.

Austin Abraham, the city's project engineer, said Bowers has it backwards. Repairs to sewage collection pipes in the North End are expected to reduce the flow of waste water, he said.

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"The problem that we have is infiltration and inflow that results from water that gets into the system from rain," Abraham said. "We'd have this problem even if we didn't have as many customers."

Repairs should seal the pipes to prevent rain from entering those pipes, he said.

"If we were working together, a lot of these problems could be solved, but the city doesn't want to lose its customers because of greed," Bowers said.

"The state has repeatedly asked the city to begin cooperating with the county. To date there isn't one instance of city cooperation, but yet the residents are suffering with potential health hazards," Bowers said.

"Would anyone want their children playing along a stream bed with raw sewage flowing through it?" he asked.

The City Council is expected to vote on a contract to repair the sewer pipes before the end of August.

Councilman William M. Breichner said he was surprised Bowers was still advocating a joint water and sewer authority.

"I don't think anybody looks at an authority as a solution," Breichner said.

Transferring waste from the city's system to the county's is an expensive proposition that would create more debt for the county and the city would be foolish to spend that kind of money, he said.

Breichner said a joint authority has nothing to do with the Hamilton Run situation.

"That's an infiltration problem, just as the county has problems with their infiltration system," he said.

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