Wait for water near landfill foreseen

February 27, 1994|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,Sun Staff Writer

It is impossible for Howard County to bring public water this year to Marriottsville residents living near the contaminated Alpha Ridge landfill, county officials told the Planning Board Friday.

The county Public Works Department plans to lay nearly 13 miles of water mains, and build a pumping station and elevated water storage tank, to bring water to affected residents. But not until fiscal 1996.

Residents want construction of the $6.7 million project to begin in the coming fiscal year, which begins July 1.

But Ronald G. Lepson, chief of the Bureau of Engineering, told the Planning Board Friday that would be impossible because plans and engineering for the project haven't been done.

Public Works Director James M. Irvin is asking the county to set aside $670,000 in the fiscal 1995 capital budget for plans, engineering, land acquisition and administrative costs. The land acquisition money would be used to buy property adjacent to the landfill, if necessary, to house the pumping station.

The Planning Board heard from Mr. Lepson Friday during a work session on $64 million in capital budget requests for fiscal 1995. The board accepted the Alpha Ridge proposal as a top priority among the recommendations it will send to County Executive Charles I. Ecker tomorrow.

Mr. Ecker will conduct a public hearing on the capital budget requests and on $319 million in operating requests at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Marriottsville residents are expected to renew their pleas for expedited water service at Wednesday's hearing. More than 100 people turned out Feb. 17 to tell Planning Board members their plight.

For more than a year, cancer-causing contaminants have been found in the ground water in test wells at the landfill south of the Little Patuxent River.

The contaminants have not migrated to nearby residential wells, but residents fear that may happen soon, because cancer-causing contaminants were discovered two weeks ago in test well at Alpha Ridge north of the river.

Planning Board members agreed that the county should bring public water to the area as soon as possible, but they reluctantly accepted Mr. Lepson's assessment that it could not happen until fiscal 1996. Nevertheless, they sent the executive a message urging construction of the project as quickly as possible.

County Environmental Services Chief John J. O'Hara assured board members that the county will continue to monitor residential wells and will bring residents bottled water if their wells become contaminated.

In another issue affecting Howard County residents, the Planning Board recommended dropping a $50,000 request to design soccer facilities at Benson Branch regional park. Nearly 100 people came to the Feb. 17 hearing to oppose that request, saying they would prefer that the park remain in its natural state.

Although the park has been slated for improvements since 1980, when it was first included in the county master plan, none have occurred.

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