Some landfill neighbors support water tower plan

January 12, 1995|By Erik Nelson | Erik Nelson,Sun Staff Writer

Although "not-in-my-backyard" is a common utterance about large public works projects, some neighbors are prepared to welcome a water tower planned for Marriottsville at a meeting tonight.

Just ask Jack Faulkner, whose family was frightened in July by a "false positive" test that showed his well was contaminated with a solvent -- one of several known to be leaking from the county landfill that overlooks his neighborhood.

"If this is going to solve the problem, they could put it in my front yard," Mr. Faulkner said of the 130- to 150-foot water tower, which will hold 300,000 gallons and be fed by a relatively unobtrusive water pumping station several miles away.

Although subsequent tests of Mr. Faulkner's drinking water -- and all other nearby wells -- showed no contamination, residents said they would trust only bottled water until the county's promise to pipe public water to the area is fulfilled.

Public works officials expect engineers to design the $6.5 million project by next fall and have water available to the area around the Alpha Ridge Landfill in early to mid-1997.

To provide public water, the department must lay 15 miles of pipe and build a pumping station and tower.

Engineers are considering three possible sites for the tower though they favor one on the property of Mount View Middle School, off Route 99 at Woodford Drive. The other two locations being considered are on the Harless-Pendleton property between the landfill and Sand Hill Road, just north of Interstate 70, and on the landfill itself, near its western boundary.

The pumping station, which will draw water from an existing water main on Route 144 just east of Manor Lane, could be placed south of Route 144 near Folly Quarter Road, at Manor Woods Elementary School on Route 144 or on the eastern edge of the landfill property, near Marriottsville Road.

At the meeting for residents at 7 p.m. today at Mount View Middle School, public works officials will discuss these options, detail the progress of the water project and hear comments about the tower and station sites.

The plan to build the tower has won praise from landfill activist Donald L. Gill, who has been an outspoken critic of how the county Public Works Department and County Executive Charles I. Ecker have handled the contamination problem.

"We're just really pleased that Mr. Ecker is a man of his word and this thing is moving ahead," he said.

But some who live close to the contamination say more must be done now. "It's not moving fast enough," said Mr. Faulkner, who complained that the county stopped bringing bottled water to his house last month after his well passed tests for contamination.

Mr. Gill said recent tests of ground water in monitoring wells -- those created to measure the extent of landfill pollution seepage -- demonstrated the need for bringing water to the area as quickly as possible.

Residents had been told that the Little Patuxent River, which flows along the landfill's northern boundary, would keep contaminants from migrating north. But samples from a monitoring well north of the river turned up the solvent methylene chloride, which has been found in high concentrations in ground water flowing from beneath the landfill's older trash cell.

John O'Hara, chief of the department's Bureau of Solid Waste Management, said it was too early to tell what those recent test results meant. All samples that showed contamination -- barely detectable traces of the cancer-causing solvent -- appeared to have been tainted in a laboratory. Another laboratory that analyzed the same samples found no contamination, he said.

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