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Potomac monitoring considered

February 20, 2007|by DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN - The U.S. Department of the Interior has proposed installing a water-quality monitoring system inside the R.C. Willson Water Treatment Plant in Williamsport, according to Mike Spiker, the City of Hagerstown's utilities director.

The equipment would monitor raw water from the Potomac River for biological and chemical contaminants, and act as an early-warning device for the city in case impurities are found, Spiker said last week.

Hagerstown gets its water supply from the Potomac River and the Edgemont Reservoir.

Spiker said the system would cost the city $5 per month for electricity. The equipment would monitor water temperature, turbidity and ultraviolet absorbency, he said.

Before the system is installed, the City Council must give its approval, Spiker said. The council is to vote during its Feb. 27 meeting on whether to accept the agreement, he said.

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Councilman Lewis C. Metzner said the monitoring system appears to be a "win-win situation for everyone."

"It certainly seemed like a positive thing," he said.

Cherie V. Miller, a spokeswoman with the U.S. Geological Survey, a division of the Department of the Interior, said the federal government wants to install several monitoring systems along the Potomac River.

The USGS and the Maryland Department of the Environment will operate and monitor those systems from a station north of Baltimore, she said.

Readings from the equipment probably will come in every hour, Miller said.

Saeid Kasraei, the MDE's program administrator for water supply, said the equipment costs $120,000 to $150,000 on average.

"The intent is to protect public health," he said.

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