Landfill fears spur move to water hookups Alpha Ridge pollution may affect wells, some say

February 28, 1997|By Craig Timberg | Craig Timberg,SUN STAFF

Fearing that the nearby Alpha Ridge Landfill eventually will contaminate their wells, Marriottsville residents last night began signing up for discounted connections to Howard County's water system.

"I'm going to be happy to have the water," said Patricia Horn, who lives just north of the landfill and two doors from the home of a 6-year-old girl who died of brain cancer. "Sometimes you wonder, you know?"

Horn was among more than 200 area residents who gathered at the auditorium at Mount Hebron High School to hear the details of the county's water hookup program.

Howard County is spending $13 million to bring water lines -- but not sewer lines -- to the area. The system is scheduled to begin pumping water in July.

Under a program proposed by Councilman Charles C. Feaga, who represents the area, the county will pay the hookup costs for about 280 homes in a designated area near the landfill. Officials say the connection fees and plumbing would normally cost each homeowner $4,200.

The homeowners, who must sign up by July 1999 to get the discounted hookup, would still pay annual fees of $250 to $400 a year for water.

No residential well has shown verified contamination, but testing wells show that carcinogenic solvents have leaked into ground water around the landfill.

Many residents say contamination of their wells is inevitable, but the hookup program is voluntary.

"The decision is up to you," Jim Irvin, county public works director, told residents.

Questions at the meeting focused on details such as eligibility, the method of reimbursement and the timing of the program.

Some residents complained about one of the eligibility requirements: Those who bought their homes after July 1993 must pay their own connection costs.

When the County Council approved the program in the fall, members said newcomers should not be eligible for help because word had already spread of the contamination at Alpha Ridge.

But last night, several recent residents said their real estate agents, homebuilders and county officials had not alerted them.

"I probably still would have bought the house, but I would have liked somebody to tell me," said Peggy Stover-Catha, who bought her home in 1993.

Pub Date: 2/28/97

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