Plea to increase wastewater discharge questioned NORTH--Manchester * Hampstead * Lineboro

February 25, 1993|By Greg Tasker | Greg Tasker,Staff Writer

Several Baltimore County and Carroll County residents raised concerns yesterday about Carroll's request to nearly double the amount of discharge from the Hampstead Wastewater Treatment Plant into a nearby stream.

Carroll has asked the Maryland Department of the Environment to permit the Hampstead facility to increase its discharge from 500,000 gallons per day to 900,000 gallons per day to accommodate growth in the Hampstead area. County officials said the increased discharge has been part of that region's master plan.

About 25 people, including Baltimore City officials, attended a public hearing on the request yesterday at the County Office Building in Westminster. The state, which is reviewing the county's request, will accept public comment through March 31, said Mark D. Jacobs, administrative officer for MDE's water-management administration.

The Hampstead plant is near the Baltimore County line and discharges into Piney Run, a tributary of another stream that flows into Loch Raven Reservoir, which serves as a source of drinking water for Baltimore.

Mr. Jacobs said the state's concern in reviewing the request is whether the water quality of the stream can be protected with the additional discharge. He said he didn't know how soon after the close of public comment a decision would be made.

"Sometimes it's just a few weeks, other times it's a couple of years," he said.

C. Victoria Woodward, a Hampstead lawyer who lives about 3,000 feet from the stream, asked the state to update water-quality impact studies to determine whether Piney Run could handle the additional discharge.

"Would we be overstepping our bounds to ask for an update?" Ms. Woodward asked. "Our concern is the impact on the stream's future. We'd like to address that issue."

Ned Halle, an Upperco, Baltimore County, resident who is vice president of the Piney Run Preservation Association, said that although his group has concerns about the increased discharge, the group was not adamantly opposed to the request.

"If they can prove to us that [the increased discharges] are not adversely affecting stream quality, we're not opposed," he said. "But we have serious questions about whether they can prove that."

Mr. Halle asked whether there were alternatives to the county's request, such as discharging into another stream. Both state and county officials said no.

Catherine Rappe, chief of the Carroll County Bureau of Water Resource Management, said that as part of a plan to protect the state's reservoirs, the state won't allow any discharges from new plants into reservoir watersheds.

Residents also asked questions about the current operation of the Hampstead plant, including state oversight, staffing and emergency procedures.

County officials said emergency procedures are in place in the event of a breakdown or other problem and that workers staff the plant from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and for three hours on Saturdays and Sundays.

Mr. Jacobs said the plant monitors its own discharge and also is subject to unannounced checks by MDE officials.

State officials said the plant has been operating well.

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