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Grant to buy water system

August 29, 2002|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

A $1 million federal grant to the Washington County Commissioners should provide the county with enough money to pay for a new water system to serve 80 homes in the Pen Mar area, Water and Sewer Director Greg Murray said Wednesday.

The county also received a $142,000 federal grant that will help fund a sewer line connecting the county's sewer system with the city of Hagerstown's.

Both grants are from the United States Department of Agriculture. The grants were announced Wednesday at a presentation at the Rocky Gap Convention Center in Cumberland, Md., attended by county, state and federal elected officials.

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Murray said he estimates the cost of constructing a new water system in the Pen Mar area at about $2.3 million. The cost is high because the system is being built in a rural area, he said.

The Maryland Department of the Environment gave the county a $440,000 grant this year and the state has budgeted an additional $900,000 for the next fiscal year, which starts July 1, 2003, he said.

Construction of the system, which would include a storage tank, probably won't start for about one year until the county is absolutely sure it will also get the $900,000 from the state, he said.

"We will be able to build the entire system with grant funding. It won't force an increase in rates," Commissioner William J. Wivell said.

The residents who would be served by the system use wells and cisterns to obtain their water, Wivell said. Some of the residents in the Pen Mar area pay to truck in water to meet their water needs.

"I think it's a positive development for the community," Karl Weissenbach, chairman of the Cascade Committee, said Wednesday about the grant. "It is a step in the right direction."

The $142,000 grant will be used to help pay to build a sewer line from Newgate Industrial Park on Hopewell Road to the Washington County Detention Center, Murray said.

Total cost of the project is estimated at $1.25 million, Murray said. With the new grant, the county has $1.125 million in grants for the project, he said.

Connecting the city and county systems would result in reduced operational expenses and increased revenues for both governments, Murray said.

However, proposed amendments to a city-county agreement that would allow for the connection of the two systems have not been approved by the two governmental bodies because of a disagreement over language.

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