Manchester's Creative Sewer Plan CARROLL COUNTY

December 16, 1992

There is no argument that the 40 households on Charmil Drive in Manchester need to be hooked up to the town's sewer system. The impediment has been how to connect those households without driving the property owners into bankruptcy. Judging from a presentation made earlier this month, it sounds like Manchester officials and an ad hoc committee may have come up with a solution that satisfies everyone's needs.

Shortly after these houses were built in the 1970s, health officials discovered that the drain field for their septic systems was polluting their wells. The residents were quickly hooked up to city water. The residents continued to use their septic systems, but they are now failing.

Manchester also has its own needs. The town constructed a sewage pumping station at the southern end of town but has not yet placed it into service. The Maryland Department of the Environment has won a court ruling ordering the town to put the station into use. The town is being subjected to a fine of $200 a day -- which has not yet been collected -- for each day the station sits idle.

The main obstacle to solving the problem on Charmil Drive has been the cost. The best estimate is that all the construction costs, connection fees and other charges would average about $12,600 per household. For many of the Charmil Drive residents, that amount is beyond their means. Until this fall, no one had any workable payment plan.

Town Manager Terry Short thinks he may have come up with a solution that reduces the cost for everyone. Town officials are studying the offer from the developers of Manchester Meadows -- a 310-lot development -- to absorb some of the cost. The developer would build the sewer main. In addition, the developer would deposit with Manchester the $2,700 town charge on each of the 310 proposed lots. The deposit -- $837,000 -- would guarantee the developer the right to connect into the sewer system for five years. The town would earn interest on the deposit that could further "buy down" the sewage construction and connection costs.

The town council will consider this proposal at its meeting next Wednesday.

This proposal certainly merits serious consideration and a possible method for connecting dozens of other town residents with septic tanks to the town's sewer system.

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