Text of water memo to Washington County Commissioners

June 05, 2003

Following is the text of a memo from Laurie Bucher, the Washington County Health Department's director of environmental health division, to the Washington County Commissioners.

To: Washington County Commissioners

From: Laurie Bucher, Washington County Health Department, Director, Environmental Health Division

Date: June 2, 2003

Subject: Town of Boonsboro water and sewer line extension project


This memo provides an update on drinking water quality in wells adjacent to the Town of Boonsboro and a potential solution of connecting this area to the Town for water and sewer service.

The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) in conjunction with the Washington County Health Department (WCHD) have found serious water quality problems with wells in this area resulting in risks to the public health of the users.



The majority of the Boonsboro area is located over unconfined carbonate aquifers, which supply water to the businesses and the citizens around Boonsboro. Carbonate aquifers are prevalent throughout the Hagerstown Valley. The hydrology of carbonate rocks is unique because through dissolution of bedrock it gives rise to a karst terrain, resulting in sink holes, caverns and many cracks and crevices. Wells in this area often intercept enlarged openings, which are hydraulically connected to sinkholes and/or streams. These connections do not provide a treatment zone or enough soil to remove pathogens present in surface water before the water reaches such supply wells. Most of the individual wells presently have some type of treatment, but it is not sufficient for removing the pathogens that may be present.

In compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act, the WCHD and the Maryland Department of the Environment collected water samples from non-community water supply systems in Washington County, which included the facilities along Alternate Route 40 north of Boonsboro, between Lappans and Mill Point roads, to determine if the individual wells were under the direct influence of surface water. In addition to collecting water samples, septic systems and sink holes were tested and dyed. Those dyes that were used in testing were found in numerous small water systems between Lappans Road and Mill Point Road, which included a bank, produce market and large restaurant. Documented results of the above testing and routine water testing have indicated that most wells along National Pike from Lappans Road (Md. 68) to Mill Point Road contain total or fecal coliform bacteria and are Groundwater Under the Direct Influence of surface water (GWUDI). These wells include a church school, restaurants and individual private wells. Surface water contains microbes that can cause waterborne diseases, such as Giardia, Legionella, Cryptosporidium, etc., which cannot be treated by simple chlorination and UV treatment. Elevated nitrates are also present in the water supply of the Scenic View MHP system. The MDE and WCHD believe that the wells in this area pose a serious public health risk to consumers, which include County residents and businesses. As a result, MDE and the WCHD strongly support an extension of the Town of Boonsboro's water and sewer lines and feel that this is a number one priority issue in Washington County to improve the public health of not only the Boonsboro area citizens but patrons of many businesses.

Affected Systems

Scenic View Mobile Home Park (population approximately 42), Faith Christian Church and School, Tri-State Church of God, Boonsboro Produce, M&T Bank, Boonsboro Pharmacy, Old Pike Inn, Yellow House, Boonsboro Ambulance Company, private wells and a residential development on Scenic View Court, who are proposed to receive water service (approximately 25 homes). None of these wells currently have adequate treatment in place to remove pathogens that may be present in surface water.


The MDE and County Health Department recommend that water and sewer lines be extended from the Town of Boonsboro. The proposed water line would extend along National Pike West (Alt. 40) from Lappans Road (Md. 68) to Mill Point Road. Because of documented septic failures (Boonsboro Square Auction House), an extended sewer line is also being proposed that would extend along National Pike West (Alt. 40) from Lappans Road (Md. 68) to the Boonsboro Square Auction House. This part of the project lies in Washington County's priority funding area (PFA) and will be annexed into the town, which is a charter requirement for sewer service. The water line will be approximately 6,000 feet, and the sewer 2,000 feet.

Cost and Financing

The estimated cost of the water line is $420,000 (using $65 per foot, which has been used in this area). The estimated cost of the sewer line is between $70,000 to $200,000 depending on the type of system.

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