Permit seen near to treat wastewater

Public hearing needed before MDE issues OK is expected in June

$786,000 facility sits idle

Plant was built in 1998 to handle effluent from Key High School

April 19, 2001|By Brenda J. Buote | Brenda J. Buote,SUN STAFF

After months of waiting, Carroll officials expect to soon have the state discharge permit the county needs to operate the idle wastewater treatment plant at Francis Scott Key High School near Union Bridge.

A state public hearing, a step required before the discharge permit is issued, is expected to be held in June to give residents an opportunity to comment on the permit before the Maryland Department of the Environment makes a final decision, the commissioners were told yesterday.

"We're getting very close now to having a public hearing," said Doug Myers, director of the county's Public Works Department.

If approved, the discharge permit would allow the county to release treated wastewater from the plant - a $786,000 facility the school system built without required state permits - into nearby wetlands. The county would be required to monitor the character of the effluent, including its nitrogen, phosphorus and ammonia levels.

In January, Myers told the commissioners the permit would be issued by Valentine's Day, but it was delayed while state officials questioned whether the treated effluent would flow into a dry channel that feeds Little Pipe Creek. After several conversations between county and state officials, MDE asked that the effluent be kept at least 25 feet from the channel.

Jim Slater, the county's environmental compliance specialist, is writing a response to the state's concerns. He hopes to mail the letter by the end of the week.

"I think everyone is on the same page now," Slater said. "We all want to move this forward."

School and county officials have been searching for two years for an appropriate place to release treated wastewater from the school plant, which was built without required construction and environmental permits, resulting in lawsuits, investigations and a $10,000 fine by the state.

The facility has sat idle since its completion in July 1998. School and county officials would like to get the plant running before the new school year begins.

In other business yesterday, the commissioners agreed to pave Turkeyfoot Road, a winding gravel lane on the outskirts of Westminster, if money can be found in the budget for the project. Work on the road could cost as much as $1.3 million.

Paul Taylor of the 3800 block of Turkeyfoot Road attended yesterday's board meeting and reminded the commissioners that the road was supposed to be paved 15 years ago because it is dangerous. He and several neighbors deeded land to the county in 1986 for the project, but county funding fell through.

"I'd be willing to do it if we can get the funds," said Commissioner Donald I. Dell. "I'd like to put this project behind us."

In addition to Turkeyfoot Road, the commissioners are considering paving Albert Rill, Bert Koontz, Falls, John Pickett and Leppo roads.

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