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Waste water spills in creek

March 24, 2003|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

Heavy rainfall on Thursday led to a 200,000-gallon spill of partially treated pre-treated waste water into the Conococheague Creek, Washington County Public Works Director Gary Rohrer said Friday.

Hagerstown and Shepherdstown, W.Va., officials said they did not have any problems resulting from higher water levels due to the storms.

Greg Keefer, a Hagerstown weather observer, reported on his Internet site that about 1.62 inches of rain fell in Hagerstown on Thursday.

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On Thursday, forecasters with the National Weather Service in Sterling, Va., said heavy rainfall might force the Potomac River out of its banks at Shepherdstown, W.Va., early today.

On Friday, meteorologist Steve Zubrick said the rainfall and its effect were not as bad as predicted.

Partially treated waste water being treated at the Conococheague Waste Water Treatment Plant spilled into the creek about 10:15 p.m. Thursday, Rohrer said.

It was the first spill of that size since about 1996, Rohrer said.

Normally, the plant has less than 4 million gallons of waste water per day, Rohrer said. There were more than 11 million gallons of waste water going through the plant Thursday, which resulted in the spill, he said.

The waste water was diluted by the rain, he said.

The county is developing a collection system for the plant to prevent future problems during rainstorms, he said.

County officials notified the Washington County Health Department and the Maryland Department of the Environment about the spill. Signs were posted along the creek stating that swimming, fishing and other contact with the water should be avoided from the Old Kemps Mill to the mouth of the Potomac River.

The Health Department will check the water quality regularly for the next few days, Environmental Health Director Laurie Bucher said.

Friday morning, heavy rains caused 2,000 gallons of raw wastewater to be released from the Maugansville collection system, Bucher said. As a result, water contact, swimming and fishing should be avoided in the unnamed tributary of Rush Run which flows through the Maugans Meadows subdivision, she said.

Signs were posted and residents who live near the spill called her, Bucher said.

While the waste water in both spills was diluted by rainfall, people should still be careful around the water, she said.

For additional information on the spills, call Bucher at 301-791-3270.

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