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Thurmont may get $6 million for sewer repairs

Jeremy Hauck

Thurmont Mayor Martin A. Burns announced Monday at a town meeting that Thurmont has made the list of Maryland municipalities slated to receive federal stimulus money.

Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) last week proposed 95 water quality and drinking water projects for final approval by the Environmental Protection Agency. The projects will receive nearly $120 million in loans and grants through the $787 billion federal stimulus package, formally known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

Pending final approval, Thurmont will receive a low-interest (either 0 or 1 percent), $6 million loan to pay for an upgrade to its wastewater treatment plant. The loan will fully fund repairs to the plant's high-flow management system, which the town expects to cost about $5.8 million.

While Burns expressed disappointment that the town received the money in the form of a loan instead of a grant, Thurmont officials were pleased at the announcement.

Commissioner Robert E. Lookingbill called the loan "nothing to sneeze at."

Thurmont's water quality project was one of just three in Frederick County that made O'Malley's list.

Frederick County is slated to receive a $6 million loan to expand its Ballenger Creek wastewater treatment plant. Walkersville is in the list for a $67,000 loan to start up a project to connect its drinking water to Frederick County's as a backup measure.

Thurmont needs roughly $12 million to upgrade its water and sewer facilities. The town's system is susceptible to heavy rain infiltration, which has caused sewer backups this decade. Several families affected by those backups took the town to court in a 2004 class action lawsuit.

The town and the families involved in that lawsuit have since settled out of court on confidential terms.

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