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Hagerstown backs Washington County Chesapeake Bay cleanup plan

City Council said its implementation would be 'fiscally irresponsible and financially unfeasible'

June 19, 2012|By C.J. LOVELACE | cj.lovelace@herald-mail.com

The Hagerstown City Council on Tuesday unanimously agreed to submit a statement in support of a Washington County Chesapeake Bay cleanup plan, but said its implementation would be “fiscally irresponsible and financially unfeasible.”

The Maryland Department of the Environment has required all municipalities in the county to submit a position statement about the Phase II Watershed Implementation Plan, which was put in place by theU.S. Environmental Protection Agencyafter pollution of the bay was identified as a major problem.

Like most other municipalities across the county, the five-member council’s statement merely acknowledges that there is a problem with nutrient pollution in the Chesapeake and concludes that the amount of money needed to institute projected upgrades to reduce pollution is just not possible by 2025.

According to projections, Washington County’s estimated costs under the plan would be  $1.1 billion, with Hagerstown’s portion being $210 million in stormwater upgrades and another $10.2 million in wastewater improvements, which have already been budgeted, according to city officials.

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In its statement, the council said that it is unable to adopt or support the plan because it would directly impact its residents.

However, the council will look at ways to implement improvements in accordance with the plan in the future as they become financially feasible, according to the statement.

Councilman Martin Brubaker said he would attempt to discuss the plan with state officials. He said it seems to move along a little bit every year.

“While the objectives are good, it’s hard for all local county municipal governments to manage to fund these things, so I will try to discuss this once more,” Brubaker said.

Every county in Maryland is required to submit a statement about the plan by the end of the month.

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