Getting Public Water Has Residents Worried

April 17, 1991|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,Staff writer

PLEASANT VALLEY — For decades, residents of this small northwest Carroll community have relied on a private water system whose purity was assured by daily dumping -- by hand -- of chlorine.

By the end of the year, the 58 homes that line a three-block section of country roads could be getting water the newfangled way -- and a sewer system to boot.

The only catch, as more than 65 residents gathered in the social hall at the Pleasant Valley Volunteer Fire Co. learned Monday night, is a $2.2 million price tag.

"We're looking at grants to help yourcommunity afford the system," the county's assistant planning director, K. Marlene Conaway, told residents. "Don't even calculate how much it would cost per household, because it is a scary number."

To be exact, it comes to $37,820.52 for each household, although state and federal grants are expected to pick up most -- if not all -- of thetab.

Few doubt that Pleasant Valley needs a new water system. Some residents complained last night of water shortages during morning and evening hours. Carroll's Health Department has for more than a year been concerned about possible contamination in drinking water. The chlorination-by-hand method of purifying the water was far from ideal.

"The Pleasant Valley Community has existing environmental and public health problems that render the no-action alternative unacceptable," said a report by Associated Engineering Sciences Inc., a Hagerstown consulting firm hired by the county. "Pleasant Valley is in critical need of a public wastewater collection and treatment system."

The most likely system to be built would be gravity-driven, conveyingsewage downhill from homes to a treatment facility close to Bear Branch. And while the proposed site for the facility is near the town's drinking water wells, county officials said that the waste systems would not jeopardize the water supply.

Word on funding for the project is expected by August; construction would take about four or five months, Conaway said.

Even if the sewer and water system is paid for by grants, the residents of Pleasant Valley still would pay yearlyusage fees, which could range from as much as $900 a year to as little as $109.

The exact amount each homeowner would face depends notonly on the amount of funding from state and federal sources, but also on how many people are hooked up to the system.

Some residents at the meeting were concerned that once a plant is built, it would mean growth would be inevitable. Commissioner Julia W. Gouge reassured them, saying that the plant would be built to accommodate only the exisiting homes.

The amount of yearly fees would be on the high end for Carroll County public sewer and water systems. This year, fees range from a low of $65 for users of Taneytown's system to more than $105 in Hampstead.

A public hearing, required as part of the Small Cities Community Development Block Grant application being submitted by the county, followed the hour-long informational meeting Monday. Few residents made comments, although concerns were raised about potential odor from the sewage treatment plant and the effects of greater water pressure from an improved system.

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