Piney Run group tries negotiation

February 01, 1994|By Donna E. Boller | Donna E. Boller,Sun Staff Writer

A citizens group that has been fighting Carroll County's request to increase the amount of treated sewage effluent that goes into a stream below Hampstead offered yesterday to negotiate an agreement with county government.

If no agreement can be reached, the Piney Run Preservation Association is ready to proceed with legal action, said association President Mary Bee Gaines.

The citizens group has challenged the Maryland Department of the Environment's draft decision to allow the county to increase the plant's discharge from 600,000 to 900,000 gallons a day. The challenge is awaiting a hearing before an administrative law judge.

The commissioners referred the association's offer to the county attorney's staff.

The citizens group also asked to join the commissioners in working out an agreement on Black & Decker Corp.'s plan to pump an average 432,000 gallons of water a day to clean up underground water contamination. The county is trying to get that amount reduced.

Association members say Piney Run has been degraded. Effluent from the Hampstead sewage treatment plant, which is operated by the county, goes into the stream. The stream runs through the Trenton Mill area of Baltimore County, where association members live, and empties into Loch Raven Reservoir.

"I used to like to wade in it, but now I don't want to," said Sylvia Pauley, who has lived along the stream in Upperco for 11 years.

"You don't dare," said her neighbor Dot Rowland.

C. Victoria Woodward, an association member and its attorney, pointed out several instances when temperatures of the treated effluent exceeded state limits. But the state never cited the county for those violations, she said.

Jeffrey L. Rein, administrator of the department's wastewater permit program, said the temperature violations involved only a small segment of the stream.

The treatment plant was an established operation when Piney Run was reclassified as a trout stream several years ago, Mr. Rein said. "We don't feel it is appropriate to tell them to go back and cool their effluent," he said.

County Public Works Director Keith Kirschnick said yesterday that he could not comment on violations because he had not read the association's data.

Wayne Lewns, county utilities bureau chief, did not return calls.

Association members feel that the state environmental agency hasn't taken their concerns seriously, Ms. Gaines said. "MDE essentially told us, 'Just vote the commissioners out.' We're Baltimore County residents. We can't do that. Plus that doesn't address the problem," she said.

Mr. Rein said the stream will actually be cleaner if the increased discharge permit goes through because the department is imposing tighter limits on phosphorus -- which causes algae blooms -- and ammonia.

He said the state agency has asked Carroll's government to look into the association's complaint that more sediment is going into the stream.

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