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Boonsboro fine reduced

April 02, 2002|BY TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

The Maryland Department of the Environment significantly reduced a $3,500 fine levied against the town of Boonsboro after deciding state environmental officials were partly to blame for the town's violation of state waste water standards.

Boonsboro Mayor Charles "Skip" Kauffman said at Monday night's town meeting that the state Department of the Environment slashed the town's fine to $500.

"The good news is that our fine is only $500," Kauffman said. "That past issue can be put to rest."

The Town Council agreed to pay the reduced fine.

Kauffman said a March 20 letter from the Department of the Environment stated department employees gave the town bad advice on how to deal with the state violations after solar-powered waste water equipment purchased by the town didn't work.

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The system, called the Pond Doctor, didn't function properly, giving the town high levels of algae and other biological problems at the lagoon, which is in violation of state standards.

"We try to comply. We try to do the right thing," Kauffman said. "The Pond Doctor did not work out."

The town filed suit against Pond Doctor in February and is asking for a refund of $104,180, which is what the town paid for the system.

Pond Doctor President Wayne Ruzicka, in a letter to the town, acknowledged that the equipment didn't work, but said the company's financial problems would delay a reimbursement.

The town has gone back to using electric-powered equipment to treat the waste water. Boonsboro discharges about 280,000 gallons of waste water produced by its 3,500 residents daily.

Town Attorney William C. Wantz said he credits Kauffman with the fine reduction after he met with state Department of Environment officials to dispute the violations.

"It's quite unusual for MDE to all but eliminate a fine," Wantz said. "That's a significant reduction."

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