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Two towns getting USDA aid

August 24, 2007|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

Two Washington County towns are getting federal aid for water- and sewer-related projects.

Smithsburg is getting a $748,000 low-interest loan to build a 350,000-gallon water storage tank, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The new tank roughly will double the water storage capacity in one of the area's fastest growing municipalities.

Mayor Mildred "Mickey" Myers said $60,000 from the loan will be spent on an emergency backup generator for a pump station.

The USDA's Rural Development program also awarded a $15,000 grant to help Williamsport study its faltering sewer system.

The town plans to pay millions of dollars to overhaul a system that dates to the 1960s.

Myers said in a phone interview her town currently has two water storage tanks along Federal Lookout Road. The capacity is 120,000 gallons for one tank and 240,000 gallons for the other.

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She said the new tank will be built in the same area, and will help the town keep pace with development.

The town talked for a while about expanding its storage capacity, but "really got determined" in the last four years, Myers said.

ARRO Consulting of Hagerstown is working with the town, she said.

USDA's Rural Development said in a press release that the town's loan has an interest rate of 4.125 percent. The town must repay the money over 40 years.

Williamsport's $15,000 grant will go toward a sewer-system study that's under way. The town will pay the other $25,000, said Marlene B. Elliott, Rural Development's director in Maryland.

In the town, the USDA press release says, "pipes are collapsing, revealing cracks and root intrusion which cause an inflow and infiltration problem.

"During wet weather months, the town's bills triple compared to normal billing months; the system is absorbing large amounts of ground water that is being treated by the county's wastewater treatment plant."

Clay P. Riley, a project engineer with Thrasher Engineering of Clarksburg, W.Va., said his company has been examining the system with a closed-circuit TV camera and through smoke tests and flow monitoring.

Councilman Earle R. Pereschuk Sr., who oversees the town's water and sewer operations, has said the project was estimated more than a year ago to cost $5 million.

The town is getting $400,000 for the project from the Maryland Department of the Environment, Mayor James G. McCleaf II said.

USDA representatives stopped in Williamsport, then Smithsburg, on Friday for ceremonial-check presentations. They were joined by U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-6th; Maryland state Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington; and staff members representing Maryland's two U.S. senators.

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