(11/1) If residents want to stabilize
their sewer rates, they are going to have to
help the town find out where the problems are
in the system, according to one Thurmont Town
“If the citizens don’t step up to the plate
and assist, then I don’t want to have them
come and complain that we aren’t getting this
fixed fast enough,” Commissioner Wayne Hooper
said during the Oct. 23 town meeting.
To speed things up, he proposed forming a
group of residents who could check the
laterals in their neighborhoods. Laterals are
sewer lines owned by the homeowner that
connect a home or business to the town’s main
“We think that [laterals] could be a
significant factor or the problem with the
system,” Mayor Martin Burns said.
Hooper said the group would be set up much
like a Neighborhood Watch except the
suspicious activity the residents would be
looking for would not be criminals but leaks
in the sewer system.
“If we can get citizens involved to do some
leg work, we can identify the worst ones
[laterals],” Hooper said.
The process would involve listening to
laterals while it is raining to hear if water
is flowing through the lines. If so, it could
indicate a leak in the lateral that is
allowing rainwater into the sewer system.
“The sooner we get this taken care of, the
sooner we can think about lowering bills,”
The town is facing $10 million in sewer
upgrades and repairs and two
multi-million-dollar lawsuits over damage
caused by sewer back-ups into residents’
homes. Because the town’s sewer system must be
self supporting, paying for these items will
continue to push up the cost for sewer service
in the town. Thurmont already has some of the
highest rates in the state.
If laterals are the problem, then
homeowners could wind up incurring a large
expense to make repairs to their laterals.
The commissioners decided to see what
resident interest is in the resident program
and then make a decision on whether to pursue
the program. Those residents who are
interested can contact the town office at