Pollution solution Ecker's plan to split water costs reasonable, but could go further.

November 14, 1995

SOME RESIDENTS WHO live near the contaminated Alpha Ridge Landfill will argue that the county should pay the full freight of connecting them to public water: It isn't their fault that the landfill is unsafe and threatens to contaminate their wells. Still, County Executive Charles I. Ecker's proposal to pay for only half of the hookup costs is closer to a reasonable compromise.

Mr. Ecker argues that paying only half -- about $2,200 per home for about 300 homes -- is fair because even though the landfill has contaminated nearby groundwater, no residents' wells have been affected. Also, the county is already conducting a massive effort to curb pollution and cap the landfill. It is also not unreasonable to ask homeowners to pick up part of the hookup costs to public water, which will increase the value of their properties.

Resolving the county's landfill problems is already a massive undertaking. In addition to Alpha Ridge, two other landfills are undergoing mitigation and being capped off. The cost is expected to exceed $16 million over several years. In addition, the price tag for installing the mains allowing residents access to public water is expected to cost about $10.5 million.

Those figures in no way suggest a county trying to slink away from its responsibilities. To the contrary, Mr. Ecker has reacted with compassion and dispatch, especially since no wells have been contaminated as yet. There might still be, and probably should be, room for more compromise since the residents, even under Mr. Ecker's proposal, would have to come up with $1,900 a piece. The homes could be connected to the county's water supply when the county completes its $10.5 million water system for the landfill area in about 18 months.

Howard residents who would argue these residents are indirectly responsible for their own plight by purchasing near a landfill could be on the flip side of the same harsh logic: They elected the leaders under whom the contamination was allowed to occur.

Meanwhile, in regard to another proposal for Alpha Ridge, the construction of a model airplane park on a closed section of the landfill, we tend to agree with one resident who dubbed it "the last insult." These residents have put up with enough: the incessant buzz of model planes would likely drive them over the edge.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.