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County to operate Ritchie water plant

May 08, 2002|BY SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

The Washington County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday agreed to enter into a contract with PenMar Development Corporation to operate the water system on the former Fort Ritchie U.S. Army base when ownership of part of the base transfers from the Army to PenMar.

Under the contract, PenMar would pay the county $65,000 for the first year of operation, Water and Sewer Director Greg Murray said. About $12,000 of that amount would be for equipment replacement. The cost would be $53,000 a year in future years, he said.

PenMar and Army officials have said the transfer of some of the base land will occur later this month.

An Army contractor currently operates the water system.

The system is capable of producing an average of 300,000 gallons per day, Murray said.

Murray said the additional workload for the Fort Ritchie system will require hiring an additional full-time employee, but all costs would be covered by the contract.

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The county is evaluating taking over ownership of the system but first wants to ensure it would be a beneficial addition, he said.

The county could connect the Fort Ritchie system to the Highfield system, he said.

PenMar and the Army signed an agreement on Aug. 24, 2001, in which the Army agreed to transfer, in phases, ownership of the 638-acre former base to PenMar.

The first-phase transfer would involve 236 acres that includes two lakes and property being used by the International Masonry Institute. The second and third phases of the transfer probably would not occur until 2003 or 2004, PenMar officials said.

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