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Sewage Pumped Into Stormwater Drains

Tara Buck
Frederick News Post

(12/12/03) Wednesday night's torrential rains did not cause sewage to flood into homes at Ironmaster Court, as was the case several times this summer.

Raw sewage was pumped, however, into stormwater management drains, which empty into a stormwater management pond behind the homes at Ironmaster Court, resident Rachel Patrick said Thursday.

And she's just as upset the pumping occurred as she would have been had raw sewage found its way, once again, into her basement, she said.

"I woke my husband up to take pictures," she said, when town officials began the pumping about 4 a.m. Thursday.

"They were pumping straight out of the sewage line into the street at first," Ms. Patrick said. "Gary Dingle, the line control man, said he forgot some widget to clamp onto the hose. ... So for about a half hour to an hour they were pumping out of the sewage line and into the street.

"Once they finally got their clamp together, they pumped steadily until almost 10 this morning. That was from the line to the storm drain, and all that raw sewage dumped into the sediment pond. It's still full of water and sewage that's just standing.

"And there were no signs or anything putup to say children shouldn't play there or anything," Ms. Patrick said.

Mr. Dingle, the town's wastewater treatment plant superintendent, did see that signs warning residents of the sewage were placed around the pond Thursday after-noon, after his crews fixed a water line -break earlier in the day.

Mr. Dingle said the town is permitted to pump the sewage into the stormwater drains but must report such pumping to the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE), which he said was done Thursday afternoon.

He said the town also followed MDE's guidelines for such waste placement and that lime was placed over the raw sewage that ended up on the street.

A manhole in the vicinity of Ironmaster 'Court has held Mr. Dingle's attention since the sewage back-ups occurred this summer. He said Thursday that the recent snowfall combined with Wednesday night's heavy rains forced the town to pump the sewage out of that manhole and into the storrnwater drain to prevent back-up into residents' homes.

"I know when it (the manhole) gets to a certain point that we have to start pumping," he said. "Either that, or it goes into the homes."

A Hagerstown engineering firm, ARRRO Consulting Inc., now looking for problems within the town's sewage system has yet to find any, Mr. Dingle said. The company is continuing to run a variety of tests to find the root of the problems that have plagued the town this year.

"They're trying to come up with what the problem is," he said. "Until they do, I have to do this" pumping.

"They had flooding all over the county last night," Mr. Dingle added. "And we did pump from about 4 something this morning until between 9:30 and 10" a.m.

This is the first time a sewage overflow could have happened since earlier this summer, despite the two and three-inch rains the county received since, he said.

"Last night, with the snowfall and the rain, it just couldn't handle it," Mr. Dingle said.

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