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Attorney says Pen Mar hookup required

June 28, 2005|by TARA REILLY

CASCADE

tarar@herald-mail.com

Pen Mar-area residents who say their wells work fine and oppose hooking up to a planned Washington County water system are required by Maryland law to do so anyway.

County Attorney Richard Douglas, in a June 15 memo to the County Commissioners and County Administrator Rodney Shoop, said that residents must connect to public water or sewer service once the services become available in their areas, according to the Code of Public Local Laws of Washington County.

The "connection is mandatory and refusal to connect is enforceable in the courts," Douglas wrote.

Douglas wrote in the memo that failure to connect to the system would be a misdemeanor punishable by a $1,000 per day fine or one day in the Washington County Detention Center for every day a violation occurs.

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The county plans to extend public water service to about 80 homes in the Pen Mar area, saying it wants to improve water quality. The affected homes are serviced by wells and cisterns.

During two county-sponsored public meetings in Cascade on the issue, the majority of affected residents in attendance - many of whom were well users - spoke out against the water system.

They said they like their wells and objected to paying any costs associated with the system, including quarterly water bills.

Several cistern users said they supported the water system. They said having water trucked in to fill their cisterns was a costly inconvenience.

The county has said residents will have to pay a $1,950 connection fee to the system plus the cost of the service line installation, which was estimated to be about $2,000.

The Community Action Council is seeking a $400,000 grant to help income-eligible residents pay the fees.

Most of the $2.58 million water project will be paid for with state and federal grants, including a $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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