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Emmitsburg infiltration peaks worsen

Richard D. L. Fulton

(11/22) The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners directed town staff at their November 21 meeting to compile a list of suspect portions of the wastewater collection system to try and get a handle on continuing storm water infiltration.

Commission President Christopher V. Staiger expressed concern over the urgency of nailing down trouble areas in the system in light of the fact that the new wastewater treatment plant is due to go online in 2014.

Staiger said that the amount of storm water getting into the system could adversely impact the cost of operating the new facility, given that the plant will be treating incoming wastewater to higher standards than that currently applicable.

For decades, the town wastewater collection system degraded as the result of negligent maintenance, resulting in storm water and snow melt water working their way into the collection system through breaks and cracks in the pipelines.

In spite of nearly $4 million spent on improving the collection system since 2000, Town Manager David Haller told the commission at their November 21 meeting that peaks in the amount of wastewater treated have actually increased since all of the work to date has been completed.

"Our biggest peaks are bigger than they were before (the improvements)," he stated.

However, he said these peaks could be the result of the improvements made. While water continues to get into the system, the chances of it also escaping has been cut-off by new sections of pipeline that had been installed.

"Now that we’re catching it, we’re funneling it" to the plant since some of the water could no longer escape through some of the now-eliminated breaks further down the system, he said. This, he believes, is causing the unprecedented peaks in the volume of wastewater being processed.

Haller stated that one suspect, problematic section lies along Flat Run where he believes a section of Creamery Road shifted and caused the buried wastewater collection system pipes to misalign. "This could be a million gallon (infiltration point) under the right circumstances."

In October, the current treatment plant exceeded its design capacity on ten different days, with a 4,000 gallon spill of untreated wastewater reported on October 17.

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