Hampstead's Water Worries CARROLL COUNTY

June 28, 1993

Hampstead residents are concerned that Black & Decker's proposed massive clean-up of contaminated water beneath its plant will seriously deplete the supply of groundwater available to the town and to nearby private wells. Before this project gets underway, state officials should ensure that the town is not adversely affected as Black & Decker removes trichloroethylene and other chemicals from the groundwater.

The power tool manufacturer plans to remove the pollution by pumping an average of 432,000 gallons daily from 10 wells. The contaminated water would be pumped through a cleaning tower, which would trap the chemicals. The filtered groundwater is then to be released into a nearby stream. It is supposed to meet the standards set for drinking water.

Although the plan is designed to clean only water on the company's 180-acre site and some nearby parcels, members of the Hampstead town government and nearby neighbors are concerned that the powerful suction will draw down their own water reserves.

In addition, there's a question of whether the pumping will outstrip the amount of rainfall that would be expected to fall on Black & Decker's property. If that is the case, then water will be drawn from nearby aquifers.

The Water Rights Division of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources is beginning to review the company's application for a pumping permit. A hearing officer listened to the town's concerns at a recent meeting, but the division doesn't plan to make a decision on the permit for months.

Concerns about this large amount of pumping are indeed appropriate. Black & Decker will be pumping about 132,000 gallons more than Hampstead currently draws to supply the town's homes, businesses and schools.

The state has the authority to require the company to replace any water it removes from private wells. That same condition also should apply to the town's wells.

The contamination was discovered eight years ago, and work to clean up the water should begin as quickly as possible. However, the people of Hampstead need assurance that they will always have the water they need while Black & Decker cleans up its pollution.

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