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Emmitsburg seeks a new MDE consent order

(8/16) Emmitsburg could see a lot more growth this next year than it has seen in recent years. The town has satisfied a consent order with the Maryland Department of the Environment that limited the number of water and sewer connections that could be made to the town system. Having met the terms of the consent order, the order expired.

“Without the consent order, we really don’t have a lot of options to not providing taps for growth,” Mayor James Hoover told the town commissioners on Aug. 6.

The town was using the consent order as a way to control growth. However, now that there is no order and there is both water and sewer capacity, the town has no reason not to allow property owners within the town limits to buy taps for their property.

The two uncompleted subdivisions in town, Brookfield and Southgate, have about 65 building lots awaiting taps. Beyond that, Hoover said there is nothing approved in the town pipeline that wouldn’t require annexation.

The town commissioners allocated its annual 20 taps in July. Hoover said a few days later the town was notified that the consent order had expired.

“While MDE is satisfied, I don’t believe I am. I don’t believe staff is and I don’t believe this board is,” Hoover said.

He said while the town has addressed the problem of sewage spills by pumping sewage into a lagoon near the treatment plant where it can sit until the plant can process it, the town hasn’t addressed the problem of dealing with high flows.

“What we did is create a way to get it to the plant without spilling it,” Hoover said.

He is working to have a new consent order enacted with MDE until the town can address how to deal with high flows, which can overburden the sewer plant.

The previous agreement with MDE last four years and cost the town $3.5 million in improvements. He said that dealing with the problem of high flows will cost “at least that much and probably more.” It will also take five to eight years to address, though Hoover said he hopes that a new agreement wouldn’t be in force that long.

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