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City OKs spending almost $1 million on sewer system

August 24, 2005|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

HAGERSTOWN

gregs@herald-mail.com

Spending on the city's sewer system continues in an attempt to avoid the major problems it faced in recent years as well as to ensure it doesn't violate a binding agreement with the Maryland Department of the Environment.

At its Tuesday voting session, the City Council authorized nearly $1 million in sewer system-related expenditures as part of an effort to modernize the Waste Water Treatment Plant on Frederick Street and the city's sewage collection system.

"We have tons of things going on and it's exciting. ... We're starting to see some real progress, but there's still plenty more to do," City Water and Sewer Department manager David Shindle said before the vote Tuesday.

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The bulk of Tuesday's expense authorization was in a single contract. The council approved a $963,400 contract for Am-Liner East, of Sterling, Va., to reline 1.2 miles of sewage collection pipes and line manholes to prevent rain and groundwater from seeping into the system.

During heavy rain seasons in 2003 and 2004, the city's sewage treatment plant spilled millions of gallons of wastewater that it couldn't treat fully before it was dumped into Antietam Creek. City officials blamed part of the problem on rain and groundwater overwhelming the system.

Another authorization Tuesday was $28,000 to purchase meters to electronically measure the amount of sewage passing through certain points. City officials have said that by measuring the flows, they can better find problems and target future system improvements.

Several projects related to the city's sewage system are facing tighter schedules because of the state's involvement.

The overflows due to rain coupled with a massive electric failure last August and increasing stress from new development led the Maryland Department of the Environment to draft an agreement that would bind the city to meet a schedule of improvements.

That agreement was signed by the city in January. The agreement also required the city to develop a plan to limit the amount of new buildings that are allowed to connect to the sewer system. That plan, known as the Sewer Capacity Allocation Plan, was finalized by the City Council earlier this month.

For the current fiscal year, the city plans to spend $10.5 million alone in capital projects for the sewer system, including Tuesday's spending authorizations.

Among the sewer system projects are:

  • $5.1 million in planned spending to increase sewage handling capacity at the sewage treatment plant.

  • $2.1 million in planned improvements to the collection system, part of which was the $963,400 contract authorized Tuesday.
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