Rain causes flood of problems

June 05, 2003|by SCOTT BUTKI

Rain, rain and more rain this spring has begun causing problems on some Washington County roads and at wastewater treatment plants, government officials said Wednesday.

As a result of recent heavy rain, wastewater left both City of Hagerstown and Washington County treatment plants without being completely treated, Laurie Bucher, the Health Department's director of environmental health, said Wednesday.

Bucher said three problems involving water and sewer systems were reported this week, with each occurring because recent rainfall sent more water than usual through the systems:

  • About 1 million gallons of diluted wastewater left the Conococheague Waste Water Treatment Plant only partially treated, Bucher said. That water goes into the Conococheague Creek.

  • About 10,000 gallons of diluted raw wastewater, consisting primarily of stormwater, went through the Maugansville collection system without being completely treated, Bucher said.

  • Between 5 million and 16 million gallons of diluted wastewater went through the Hagerstown Sewer Plant system without being completely treated. Hagerstown spokeswoman Karen Giffin said the overflow from the plant to Antietam Creek increased from 6,000 gallons per hour to 250,000 gallons per hour during heavy rain.

Signs were posted along the creeks, warning people about the problems, Bucher said.

Washington County Highway officials said the following county roads were closed due to high water levels as of 4 p.m. Wednesday: Lehmans Mill Road, Leiters Mill Road, Battletown Road, Clopper Road, Independence Road, Kemps Mill Road, Point Salem Road, Broadfording Road, Pecktonville Road, Trovinger Mill Road and Wishard Road.

Drivers were discouraged from traveling on: Misty Meadows Road, Broadfording from Md. 63 to McDade Road, Tom's Road, Cool Hollow Road and Taylors Landing Road.

Despite signs noting the road closings and warnings, Washington County Emergency Services Director Joe Kroboth said some drivers still were using the roads, only to encounter problems.

"We have the signs posted and they are just going around them. They are just ignored," Highway Department Office Associate Diane Morgan said.

Morgan and Kroboth urged people to follow the instructions on the signs.

Kroboth said the areas with the most serious problems of flooded basements were Maugansville, Long Meadow and Williamsport.

The National Weather Service was calling for more rain this weekend, said Trina Heiser, a National Weather Service employee.

There was a 30 percent chance of rain early Saturday, with the chance of rain increasing to 60 percent by Saturday night, she said.

On Wednesday, .18 inch of precipitation fell in Hagerstown, according to the Internet site of Hagerstown weather observer Greg Keefer.

So far in June, 2.87 inches have fallen, Keefer's site said.

A record-breaking amount of rain - 8.21 inches - fell in May. The old record was 8.09 inches set in May 1989, Keefer said.

The Conococheague Creek at Fairview crested at about noon Wednesday at 14.1 feet and began to recede later in the day, Richard Hitchens of the National Weather Service said. Flood stage there is 8 feet, the National Weather Service said.

The Potomac River at Shepherdstown, W.Va., was expected to crest early today, the National Weather Service said. The river was at 13.6 feet at 4 p.m. Wednesday afternoon and the flood level is 15 feet, the agency said.

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