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Emmitsburg has ‘minor’ sewage spill

(1/27) The Emmitsburg wastewater collection system, once plagued with not infrequent sewage spills, suffered a minor spill during the month of December.

According to the December town manager’s report submitted at last Monday’s council meeting, the wastewater collection system spewed out some 7,200 gallons of diluted sewage.

"Part of the reason for that is, during the month of December, we had almost six inches of rainfall and (we) had nine days in which we exceeded the sewer plant’s design capacity," Town Manager David Haller told the council.

Emmitsburg’s wastewater treatment facility was built in 1986 and became operational in 1990. The facility has a currently permitted treatment capacity of 800,000 gallons per day.

"On one of those days (December 11) we had what we consider a rather small spill at Manhole 98, which is the last man hole before the pump station," he said.

Haller stated there were no spillages at the sewer plant, nor anywhere else along the collection system, except at Manhole 98.

"The reason for the spill at 98 was the (wastewater) inflow exceeded the 3,200 gallons a minute we can pump at the pump station," Haller said.

On December 11, the date of the spill, the treatment plant was deluged with 3,107,000 gallons of wastewater.

The town manager said, "The three million gallons plus is probably the highest I can remember in the ten years I have been here."

Council President Christopher V. Staiger said, "My compliments to you and the crew at the plant and all the folks who keep an eye on that. That’s a tremendous influx of water over six of those nine days."

The wastewater collection system was allowed to degrade for decades, leaving the current town administration with the challenge of bringing the system up to an acceptable level of operation.

During the past few years, sewage spills had become so endemic that the Maryland Department of the Environment established a consent order with Emmitsburg to get the system fixed.

As a result of the effort on the part of the town administration over the past several years, sewage spillage has become an increasingly rare event, even though the system is still plagued with some inflow and infiltration (I&I) problems.

Inflow is defined as: "Water other than wastewater that enters a sewerage system from sources such as roof leaders, cellar drains, yard drains, foundation drains, manhole covers, cross connections between storm sewers and sanitary sewers, catch basins," according to the town’s comprehensive plan.

Infiltration is defined as: "Water other than wastewater that enters a sewerage system from the ground through such means as defective pipes, pipe joints, connections, or manholes."

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