Carroll Co. committed to cooling wastewater

Discharge into Piney Run warmer than state allows, hurting fish, environment

October 11, 2004|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,SUN STAFF

The Carroll County commissioners expect to decide soon on a plan to lower the temperature of treated water discharged from the county's wastewater treatment plant near Hampstead.

The cost of correcting the temperature is estimated to cost as much as $2.2 million, Carroll Comptroller Eugene Curfman said. But until a specific remedy is chosen, he said the cost won't be known for sure.

The commissioners voted unanimously last week to allow the county to incur the debt.

Commissioner Julia Walsh Gouge, a former mayor of Hampstead, said the temperature of the water discharged into Piney Run is 1 to 1 1/2 degrees too high, on average, but nonetheless must be lowered.

"We have to decide whether to use chillers, which are noisy and require a building, or a geothermal solution with pipes underground to cool it," she said.

A third possible solution would be to bypass Piney Run and run a new line from the existing plant to Deep Run, which does not have the same temperature limits as Piney Run, said County Attorney Kimberly A. Millender. Deep Run contains no trout, which environmentalists say are harmed by overly warm effluent, she said.

The treatment plant opened in 1975 and discharges treated sewage into Piney Run. The trout stream, which becomes Western Run in Baltimore County, flows into Loch Raven Reservoir.

The county is battling the Maryland Department of the Environment in Carroll Circuit Court on two matters, Millender said.

First, she said, the county has asked for a judicial review of the temperature limits.

The county also is negotiating a consent order in an enforcement action of these temperature limits, which was filed against it last month by MDE, Millender said.

The state agency requires that the county monitor the temperature and report any increase above 20 degrees Celsius (68 degrees Fahrenheit).

The state alleged that treated water discharged from the plant exceeded the temperature limit 39 times during the summer. The complaint also alleges that the county did not report these violations within the time limits.

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