Jan 9, 2003
Town Manager Dave Haller said Monday
that the town of Emmitsburg suffered a major raw sewage spill
last month, dumping about 1 million gallons of sewage.
The spill occurred on Saturday, Dec.
11, according to Haller, and happened on the east side of Rt.
15 at the force main pressure break facility.
Haller said there was an exceptional
level of wild water in the system that day, causing the
delivery system to switch to high speed and resulting in an
overflow through the manhole next to Toms Creek.
Wild water is runoff from rain or
melting ice and snow.
The amount of wild water in
Emmitsburg's drainage system substantively exceeds the amount
of water actually used by the town, but because it is in the
system it is automatically treated at the sewage treatment
It was only a few months ago that
Haller talked to the commissioners about the problems the town
was experiencing with the system treating so much wild water.
And the problem has been magnified by the recent high rates of
snow and rain.
In December, for example, the town
used only an average of 239,000 gallons of water per day, but
because of the wild water, 788,600 gallons of water were
treated on average, per day at the plant.
Hoover said the town has not spent
more than a few thousand dollars on clean up of the spill to
date, but does not yet know if the Maryland Department of the
Environment will impose a penalty on the town. That matter is
still pending, he said.
For the time being, the town has
deposited lime on the ground in the area of the spill and is
testing the water up to about a half-mile downstream. He said
signs have also been placed along the stream warning people of
the higher rate of fecal matter present in the water.
Some mildly good news did come from
the event, however.
Because the incident occurred due to
an onslaught of wild water, the sewage that did overflow was
drastically diluted, reducing the adverse effect of the spill,
In another related matter,
commissioners approved a repair to a portion of the town's
sewer line that will cost in the neighborhood of $250,000. The
repair has been planned for nearly two years.
Haller said the town likely will get a
subsidized loan from the government for the repair. The
estimated interest rate will be less than 3 percent, he said.
Pat Boyle said he thought the repair had to be a
priority because of the potential health hazard and moved to
approve proceeding with the repair.
Mayor Jim Hoover said he would prefer the town get
grant money and indicated that Congressman Roscoe Bartlett
(R-6) of Buckeystown is looking into getting a grant for the
In another bit of good news/bad news
for the town, a successful test run of the town's new water
treatment plant was conducted Dec. 9. The timing couldn't have
been better because the water clarifier in the old plant
failed and the plant was shut down just as the new year rolled
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