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Mayoral candidates on the issues

April 15, 2005

Considering the city must make improvements at the wastewater treatment plant, are the requirements set by the Maryland Department of the Environment enough to safeguard against future plant failures?




Breichner: The major problem at the sewer plant has been the failure in the electrical system combined with significant storm water flows which occur during extreme wet weather periods. Replacement of the electrical switch gear and plant improvements, which involves equipment replacements and additions designed to handle high storm water flow, is in progress. The plant has a rated capacity of 8.0 million gallons per day (MGD). During dry weather periods, the plant will treat an average of 4.7 MGD. During normal rainfall, flows might raise to 6.8 MGD.

The plant's main problem, aside from the electrical failures, has been storm water entering the plant in large volumes from the collection system during extremely heavy periods of wet weather. This infiltration enters the system through cracked underground pipes, manhole covers and from customers' sump pumps. The process of locating and repairing these problems is both time consuming and costly.

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Trump: No. Regardless of who requires, regulates or establishes safeguards; safeguards only "tend" to eliminate the possibility of unhappy circumstances occurring. Therefore, whatever requirements are set by the Maryland Department of the Environment will only mitigate the possibility for future wastewater treatment plant failures.

More important is the question of what the City will do to mitigate future wastewater treatment plant failures. To their credit the City has developed a 5-10 year plan to upgrade and fix the wastewater treatment plant; the Vision for Hagerstown Team and I believe this is too slow. We have pledged to look at ways to speed up that plan through aggressive financing efforts and reallocation of current operating revenues.

We also are dedicated to insuring that the plant has redundant systems at possible failure points. On this issue, as with other critical issues concerning the City, we plan to get 'er done.

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