Black & Decker pumping plan 'disastrous' for wells, Hampstead official says

June 20, 1993|By Katherine Richards | Katherine Richards,Staff Writer

Hampstead Town Manager John A. Riley has expressed concern to the Maryland Water Resources Administration over Black & Decker's application for a permit to pump an average of 432,000 gallons of ground water per day from 10 wells on the plant's Hampstead site.

"I really don't see how they can authorize that kind of withdrawal," Mr. Riley said Friday.

In a letter to Terrance W. Clark, chief of the Water Rights Division of the Department of Natural Resources, Mr. Riley said the town supports "the effort to improve ground water quality."

But, he said, "there is great concern about the long-term effect on the aquifer if this pumping rate of 432,000 GPD were to be implemented. Any impact on Hampstead's production wells will be disastrous."

Hampstead now pumps about 300,000 gallons of water a day to supply homes, schools and businesses, Mr. Riley said.

Black & Decker applied for a permit to pump the water as part of a cleanup project. Prior to 1985, trichloroethylene and other chemicals used as degreasers contaminated ground water at the site.

To clean up the contamination, Black & Decker wants to pump up to a maximum of 720,000 gallons a day from 10 wells on the site. The water would be cleaned and then discharged through a pond and a nearby stream.

At a hearing on the permit application Tuesday, Kenneth Miller, chief of the permits section of the Water Rights Administration, said the state follows a "reasonable use" doctrine in distributing water appropriation permits.

Landowners have a fundamental right to the "reasonable use" of the underground aquifer, he said, as long as the resource and the rights of other landowners are protected.

"Was the application reasonable?" Mr. Riley said. "I don't think so."

In his letter to Mr. Clark, Mr. Riley said that the land's ability to recharge the ground water supply should be the prime consideration in determining "reasonable use."

He also wrote that when Black & Decker was questioned Tuesday about the recharge area needed to support such a large withdrawal of water, "the applicant did not answer the question."

On Friday, Linda Biagioni, vice president for environmental affairs at the Towson office of Black & Decker Co., said, "The process that we're going to do is not going to have an effect on anything outside the property."

If it seemed as if company representatives evaded the recharge question, she said, it probably was because they couldn't understand its relevance.

Mr. Riley also questioned whether the tests done by Black & Decker's hydrogeologists were sufficient.

"None of the wells were tested in accordance with DNR `f regulations. Only one well was tested at a time and some only for a short duration; the longest was 70 hours," he wrote in the letter.

The Department of Natural Resources requires a 72-hour well test, but Natural Resources geologist Matt Pajerowski said Friday that the difference between a 70-hour and a 72-hour test was "not . . . significant."

Mr. Clark said Black & Decker's hydrogeologists had also done other, shorter tests that corroborated the data from the 70-hour test.

The purpose of the testing is to show how the aquifer in the area behaves, he said, and the testing was sufficient to do that.

At Tuesday's hearing, Mr. Clark said he had authority to require Black & Decker to replace any water supply lost because of the pumping, as a condition of the permit.

"That's fine for the private wells -- maybe," Mr. Riley said Friday, adding that municipal wells are different.

"If there's an impact on our wells," he said, "where do you go? There is no place to go."

Black & Decker's tests indicated that the pumping might cause an 8-foot "drawdown" at the property line closest to its wells.

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