City approves more spending for sewer system

October 27, 2004|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

The Hagerstown City Council on Tuesday authorized more spending on the city's aging sewage system, which has spilled water that had not been fully treated into Antietam Creek several times over the past two years.

The spending measures on Tuesday amounted to $689,266 worth of repairs and problem-solving measures, some of which were unexpected this year, City Water and Sewer Department Manager David Shindle said.

Shindle said none of the unexpected expenditures will cause rates to city water and sewer customers to rise, and no new debt will have to be incurred to pay for the items because there is enough contingency money available.


The approvals included:

· $137,000 for a new air compressor, which recently broke as a result of age. This piece of equipment at the sewage treatment plant on Frederick Street is used as part of the process to remove nutrients, bacteria and solids from sewage water before it is dumped into Antietam Creek.

· $64,528 for new equipment known as the electric switchgear. The switchgear failed in August, causing two spills of wastewater that had not been fully treated before it was released. This cost does not include the labor, which will be shared between the City Light Department, and a contractor working on another sewer plant project.

· $96,750 for the rental of an emergency generator. The generator is being used as emergency backup while the electric switchgear is being replaced. The item was previously approved, but the city is changing contractors and will save $14,700 a month on the new six-month contract.

· $390,988 for a project to refurbish sewer lines near Hamilton Run to help prevent sewage overflows at the plant. A contractor had been selected for this project, but withdrew a $247,900 bid after finding it had not included some information in the bid. The new contractor's price is $190,988 more than the city had budgeted for the project.

According to state and city reports, spills into the creek of partially treated wastewater have occurred at least eight times this year, four times topping the 1 million gallon mark. For each such release, the Maryland Department of the Environment can fine the city up to $10,000.

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