Ground broken for new water plant

September 08, 1998|By TERRY TALBERT

More than five years of sometimes discordant talks between Keedysville, Boonsboro and the Maryland Department of the Environment ended in harmony Tuesday when ground was broken for construction of new water treatment plants in both towns.

The project creates a regional water system for the towns that officials said would serve about 2,000 residents.

Water rates for the towns are being calculated by an engineering firm handling the project, officials said.

The ground breaking ceremony was held at Shafer Park in Boonsboro, where construction for that town's 50-by-50 foot filtration plant will begin this week on land adjacent to the park's community building.

A similar plant is being built in Keedysville.

Engineers estimated the work will be done by May 1999.

Total project cost is $2.9 million. It is being paid for with a $1.5 million state grant, and a $1.4 million state loan.

The plants, which were mandated by the state, will filter and disinfect water from springs and wells that serve the two towns.


An 8-inch water transmission line that now connects the towns will be replaced with a 12-inch line as part of the project. New water meters also will be installed.

In Keedysville, individual homes will get meters for the first time. Residents there have been charged a flat rate for water consumption.

On hand for the ground breaking ceremony were officials from both towns, the construction and engineering firms, and the state department of the environment. Local and state politicians also attended.

In introducing environmental department officials, Project Manager Wayne Winebrenner, of Boonsboro, drew laughs when he said, "Ours has been a love-hate relationship, sometimes more hate than love."

Boonsboro and Keedysville were at odds over water rights and rates for years before the state environmental department stepped in. At that point, the towns and the MDE often found themselves at odds as they hashed out a regional water system plan.

Boonsboro Mayor Charles "Skip" Kauffman said the towns' water is safe to drink. The state mandated it be filtered because the water supplies might be affected by surface water, he said.

He warned that the cost to taxpayers might be high. "Fortunately we got a $1.5 million grant from the MDE," he said. "Unfortunately, the bill is about $3 million. Operating costs will increase. The debt service rate will be a large part of residents' water bills."

Keedysville Mayor Lee Brandenburg said he was relieved the project was finally under way.

"We've been fighting and hashing and going over this with four sets of plans for the project for 5 1/2 years now," he said.

Arthur Ray, deputy secretary of the MDE, likened the progress on the regional water plan with Mark McGwire's quest for the single-season home run record.

"We hit a home run. With this ground breaking we're rounding the bases. Let's bring this thing home so we can benefit the whole community," he said.

The Boonsboro plant is named the James Beeler Water Treatment Plant in honor of a resident who worked on the project but died earlier this year before he could see it completed.

Beeler's relatives were on hand for the ground breaking.

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