Decision delayed on school sewage

Commissioner wary of hiring consultant for treatment plan

May 12, 1999|By Brenda J. Buote | Brenda J. Buote,SUN STAFF

County Commissioner Robin Bartlett Frazier expressed concerns yesterday about a plan to discharge treated sewage from Francis Scott Key High School onto a neighboring dairy farm.

Frazier said her objection is not to the scope of the project but to the proposed use of a consultant. She suggested that the county could save the taxpayers money by doing much of the work itself.

J. Michael Evans, the county public works director, recommended that the commissioners hire David T. Duree, president of Advance Systems, to oversee the design and engineering of the project. Duree's company completed a feasibility study of the site two weeks ago.

"I'm not convinced we can't do the design and outreach ourselves," Frazier said. "We've done the feasibility study, and we know what we have to do."

Frazier asked her colleagues on the Board of County Commissioners to postpone deciding whether to retain Duree. Commissioners Julia Walsh Gouge and Donald I. Dell agreed, though both said they were in favor of hiring the Lineboro wastewater treatment specialist.

"The reason I wanted Dave Duree to begin with is because he pioneered this whole process," said Dell, who objected to Frazier's proposal to put the project out for bid.

That would take at least 60 days and cause costly delays, Evans said. The treatment plant at Francis Scott Key High is idle while the school's sewage is hauled to Westminster at a monthly cost of $9,000.

Charles L. Zeleski, the county director of environmental health, said putting the project out for bid could prove futile.

"As far as this type of project, I can't think of anyone who has experience. I think you'd have people bidding on it, but I would wonder about their qualifications," Zeleski said.

County officials will meet with dairy farmers Rodney and Melanie Stambaugh to discuss details of the plan, which calls for discharging up to 7,000 gallons per day of treated sewage onto an unused field on their property.

The commissioners lauded the plan last week as an inexpensive solution to a costly error by the county Board of Education. School officials built the $800,000 wastewater treatment plant last year to replace the school's aging septic system but failed to obtain state construction and discharge permits.

Duree said the plan, which was designed with biological engineers from the University of Maryland Cooperative Extension, will cost taxpayers $263,000 and take a little more than a year to implement.

Pub Date: 5/12/99

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