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Supervisors drill WTMA over wells

January 05, 2009|By JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. -- The Washington Township Supervisors on Monday continued to question the actions of the local water and sewer authority, suggesting the agency failed to be upfront about well drilling believed to have muddied the Antietam Creek for three days.

"Why didn't you come right out and call the newspaper and tell them you were the cause of the problems?" Supervisor Carroll Sturm asked.

Sean McFarland, manager of the Washington Township Municipal Authority, responded that he addressed all concerns brought before his office, talked to the Antietam Watershed Association, and conducted site visits.

At Monday's supervisors meeting, McFarland reiterated that the exceptional volume of water experienced in November's well testing caused turbid water to enter the stream. He said all testing of the new well northeast of Waynesboro was done in coordination with several regulatory agencies, including the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

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"Each time we discovered muddy water was leaving our site, we stopped," he said.

"It's good they can get that much water, but you can't ruin the stream," resident Kerry Bonner said, saying he worries when he sees fewer minnows.

McFarland said the WTMA hopes to begin drawing water clean enough to be discharged directly into the Antietam Creek. Various experts are being contacted to mitigate the sediment issues, he said.

Sturm used the muddied water and "their inability to own up to it" as one of his reasons for voting against the reappointment of WTMA chairman Jeff Geesaman.

Geesaman, who served on the WTMA board for more than 15 years, had applied to serve another five-year term. That appointment was on Monday's agenda for the supervisors' decision.

The board ultimately appointed John Blair to the post, although supervisors Elaine Gladhill and Stephen Kulla supported Geesaman. Sturm, John Gorman and Christopher Firme backed Blair.

"A lot of the recent elections have been about change, and I'd like someone new to have a chance on these boards," Gorman said.

Kulla said he did not want to lose Geesaman's experience and knowledge base.

Contacted by phone after the meeting, Geesaman said he was "disappointed, but not surprised" the supervisors ended his tenure with the WTMA.

"It comes down to we had a very (strong) difference of opinions. Sturm wanted control of the WTMA and the money," Geesaman said.

Sturm typed a list of reasons for not reappointing Geesaman. Among them were conflicts of interest with his company, displeasure with contracts like those for the filtration plant, and the muddied water.

Geesaman acknowledged his employer, Lobar Associates Inc. of Dillsburg, Pa., has had contracts in the area, including the bridge being built near Country Club Road. He pointed out that Blair has conflicts as well, saying he has an active variance application as well as property planned for Washington Township Boulevard road development.

"We've never had problems with any contracts. I have no idea what they're talking about," Geesaman said.

Geesaman said he worked for the supervisors decades ago and was asked by them to join the WTMA.

"Basically I always tried to do what was best for the people. ... I felt I was doing what was right for the community," he said.

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