More rural areas to get water service

July 23, 1993|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,Staff Writer

Rural residents whose wells are contaminated or threatened with contamination got some relief last night from the Howard County Council.

The five-member council amended the county's general plan to bring nearly 3,000 more rural acres into the planned water and sewer service area. The vote was unanimous.

Covered under the amendment would be St. Louis Roman Catholic Church and all the commercial properties on 123 acres west of Route 108 in Clarksville, 23 acres in the Burleigh Manor subdivision west of Centennial Lane and 2,800 acres surrounding the county's Alpha Ridge Landfill.

Carcinogens have been discovered in test wells at the landfill, but none have shown up so far in residential wells on the properties surrounding the landfill -- a situation that Dr. Donald L. Gill, a chemist, says is only temporary.

Dr. Gill, a Marriottsville resident has been a leader in calling attention to potential dangers to well water near the landfill. He told the council last week he expects wells surrounding the facility to begin showing contamination in two years.

"It's something we have thought about the last two years," Dr. Gill said of the amendment that was passed. "The situation is worse than we first thought. This is the first positive thing they have done."

He said the community's concern now is who will pay for the hookup -- the county or the citizens. Overall costs have been estimated at $6 million to $8 million, or about $20,000 per household.

Wells near the Clarksville business park are contaminated, and employees of a bank there have had to use bottled water for 10 years, the council was told last week.

Monsignor Anthony Sauerwein, pastor of St. Louis, told the council the church is filtering water from contaminated wells to serve parishioners on Sundays, 350 school children in kindergarten through eighth grade on weekdays, and 700 children who attend religious education classes on Saturdays.

John W. Taylor, a Highland activist who has opposed any change from rural to more intense zoning, opposed the amendment, saying he feared it would cause Clarksville and Highland to become densely populated within 10 years.

"It's obvious that we as a county have to supply clear, safe water to everyone who needs it," Mr. Taylor said. "But the council failed to address the other issues involved, and that's very disappointing."

Councilman Paul R. Farragut, D-4th, said, "It's hard to imagine that there would be much of a demand for commercial property there within the next 10 years."

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