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Brave crew takes on tough task

December 03, 2004

A new group that holds its first meeting today will tackle a task that may seem impossible - deciding how to meet Washington County's water and sewer needs for the foreseeable future.

We applaud the willingness of those who will work on this commission. It's a complicated task and will require some diplomatic skills as well.

Why? Because Washington County, Hagerstown and some of the smaller municipalities have their own sewer systems.

Interconnecting them and sharing facilities makes sense, but it almost took an act of Congress to get Hagerstown and Washington County to do that.

It's been resolved now, but during the dispute, the county's ability to draw firms with new jobs was seriously impaired.

But solutions are now possible because the two largest local governments have finally realized the area can't prosper if they fight each other.

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In addition to all they will look at, including the possible merger of all local sewer systems, we recommend members give some thought to the county's groundwater resources.

At present, there is no survey of underground water resources. If county government lifts its large-development moratorium, hundreds of homes could be built that utilize wells and septic systems.

If those wells fail and residents call on the county for help, who will pay to bring in public water? Putting off that discussion until some distant tomorrow is no longer prudent or acceptable.

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