Hampstead man asks state to reject higher volume at sewage plant

September 16, 1992|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,Staff Writer

HAMPSTEAD -- Claiming that the Hampstead sewage-treatment plant can't handle more sludge, a town resident has asked the state environment department to deny Carroll County's request to increase the volume of sewage handled at the plant.

Wayne Thomas, president of the Fields Homeowners Association, said the plant can barely process and dry the sludge it must handle now but that state and local agencies have approved the building of 375 more homes in the town.

Mr. Thomas has consistently questioned the rate at which homes are built in this growing bedroom community.

"I am asking that the Maryland Department of the Environment deny an increase in the permit and stop all construction in the Hampstead Sewage Treatment Plant service area," Mr. Thomas wrote in his letter to the agency.

"This moratorium should only be lifted when Carroll County can prove that it has the budget to guarantee that the plant will have the appropriate staff and facilities to handle the daily flows."

John Goheen, a spokesman for the environment department, said the state agency is still evaluating the county's request but will check out Mr. Thomas' allegations.

The county's request probably will be granted, Mr. Goheen said, but it will come with stricter requirements on the purity of the water discharged at the plant, since more of it will be going into Piney Run and eventually into Loch Raven Reservoir, the mainstay of the Baltimore area's drinking-water supply.

Mr. Thomas is out of the country on business, but his wife provided The Carroll County Sun with a copy of his letter. The Thomases live on Trapper Court in the new Roberts Field development adjacent to the plant.

Sludge, the solid byproduct of the treatment process, is allowed to dry in three shallow sand beds, each the size of two tennis courts. The dried sludge is shoveled by hand into a bin and trucked to county landfills.

Ronald Ireland, the plant's superintendent, said daily flows are not a problem but that because the sludge has to be dried and shoveled by hand, he and his two-man staff are barely keeping up with it.

A new sludge press like the one at the Manchester plant would solve the problem, he said, but it is not clear when the new press will be operating.

The plant's permit is for 500,000 gallons a day, although the design capacity has been 900,000 gallons a day since the plant was upgraded in 1984.

The county, which operates the plant, wants the state to increase the permit to the plant's design capacity.

That could mean modifications to the plant before the permit is granted, he said. Those modifications could include a sludge-drying process requiring less labor, Mr. Ireland said.

Wayne E. Lewns, chief of the county Bureau of Utilities, said the new sludge press will be part of a new sand-filtration and ultraviolet-disinfection system that will cost about $762,500.

The county has hired an engineer to start the design process, but the bulk of the cost will be in construction.

Mr. Lewns said the county might delay the project at one stage or another because of budget problems but that he hopes it will be built within two years.

He said he thinks the plant can handle the flow for the next two years. If the amount of flow and sludge increases to the point that the staff can't keep up, he will have to have a contractor truck the sludge away in liquid form or hire more people to shovel it when it is dry.

"I don't think I'm ever going to get the additional manpower there, the way the economy is," Mr. Lewns said. "That's why I'm excited about getting the sludge press."

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