State sues water supplier for failure to fix problems Churchville firm called health threat

November 03, 1993|By Timothy B. Wheeler | Timothy B. Wheeler,Staff Writer Staff writers Bruce Reid and Jay Apperson contributed to this article.

The state filed suit yesterday against a troubled private water system in Harford County, saying that the firm's failure to follow state orders to fix problems with supply and bacterial contamination poses a "public health threat and nuisance" in the Churchville area.

Campus Hills Water Works Inc. serves 75 homes and 18 businesses, including a shopping center and four restaurants.

In an unusual move, the Maryland Department of the Environment asked the Baltimore Circuit Court for an injunction giving the system two days to hire "a competent person or organization" to take charge and to make state-ordered improvements.

The suit also asks that the company be required within 15 days to replace one of its three wells, which was ordered shut down last month because of repeated contamination by fecal coliform bacteria.

The 23-year-old system has been beset by problems since a main break last June left residents with out water for several days. Many residents have been boiling tap water or drinking bottled water since then and have complained of low pressure or discolored water.

The firm's owner, Dr. Charles C. Edwards, a Baltimore physician, said yesterday he was not aware of the state's suit. But he complained that he has been victimized by "a regulatory agency gone amok."

He said tests of the water every few days have consistently shown it to be safe to drink. "It's just as clean as Baltimore City water," he said.

But state officials said Dr. Edwards has failed to comply with state requests that he make repairs to correct loss of water service, low pressure and contamination. He signed a consent order July 30 agreeing to make improvements but has failed to follow through, the suit says.

Dr. Edwards is appealing a state order issued Oct. 5 that he hire a water system operator.

"He just hasn't shown a willingness to comply or fulfill the agreements that he's made," said William Parrish, state water supply chief. With only two wells in service, the Campus Hills community lacks adequate standby water supply, he said.

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