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Warnings lifted at local creek

August 10, 2004|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

Water quality warnings along Antietam Creek were lifted over the weekend, nearly a week after they were posted, a Washington County Health Department official said Monday.

The City of Hagerstown's Waste Water Treatment Plant on Frederick Street on Aug. 2 released 2.7 million gallons of waste water that was partially treated but not disinfected for bacteria found in human feces.

Although there is always some level of illness-causing bacteria in the creek, or any natural body of water, the release raised those levels in the creek. County health officials asked city sewer officials to post warnings along the creek from the plant south to the Potomac River.

Water samples taken last Thursday revealed late Friday that bacteria levels along the creek had returned to naturally occurring levels, said Kimmy Armstrong, a supervisor for the health department's Environmental Health Division.

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Armstrong said that although the warnings were lifted, creek users should be careful.

"Don't drink the water. Try not to get water in your mouth, on your lips, because any natural bathing area contains bacteria, pathogens, organisms that can cause disease," Armstrong said.

The city plans several projects to reduce the number of times water that has not been completely treated is released into the creek.

The Aug. 2 release was the third this year that led to creek warnings. Officials said a fuse blew in the aging electric switch gear, which is similar to a home's circuit breaker but on a much larger scale. That equipment is scheduled to be replaced by the end of this year.

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