Town of Emmitsburg
300A S. Seton Ave Emmitsburg, Maryland

December 2004

Setting the record straight on the water system

Over the past 24 to 30 months there have been several changes in Emmitsburg town government. Due to misinformation, the most recent change has created more concern with the media than expected. Due to newspaper articles printed with inaccurate information, I have appointed a town employee to be the single contact for all media inquires requesting staff comments. Having one person responsible for media relations is not an uncommon policy and it improves customer relations and communication.

The most recent article to cause concern was printed in the Frederick News Post and was related to the town's water system. I expect and realize that people make mistakes, but the reporter went to several sources to get the town's billing information and then inaccurately reported the information. Prior to this article being published, this reporter never contacted me for any information on any of her articles, although several months ago I provided her with several ways to contact me, including two e-mail addresses, my private phone number, and work and cell phone numbers. This is the same thing I do with all media contacts and I have a very good relationship with them.

The town of Emmitsburg does not purchase water from Mount Saint Mary's for $2.40 per 1,000 gallons and then sell it to our residents for nearly $5 per 1,000 gallons as the report stated. The town of Emmitsburg has a minimum charge of $30 for the first 6,000 gallons of water for all in-town users of the system. If in-town users use more than 6,000 gallons, they are charged $2.40 per 1,000 gallons up to 20,000 gallons.

The average Emmitsburg resident uses approximately 18,000 gallons of water per billing cycle. The $30 minimum fee not only covers the actual water, but covers the overhead cost of operating the water plant on a daily basis (salaries, electricity, vehicles, building maintenance, insurances, etc.).

Approximately five years ago Mount Saint Mary's agreed to allow the town of Emmitsburg to create a temporary connection to the university's water system. This connection was made when the town was having difficulties with our old water plant and was concerned that we might not be able to supply adequate water to the town.

After the temporary connection was made, Town Manager Dave Haller continued to negotiate with Mount Saint Mary's to make a permanent connection which would allow Mount Saint Mary's to supply water to the town or the town to supply water to Mount Saint Mary's.

After several weeks of negotiation, Mount Saint Mary's agreed to allow the town to create a permanent connection. This connection was a major win-win for both water systems. With this connection both systems now have an additional resource for water if either system develops an operational problem that prevents one or the other from supplying the necessary amount of water. This connection was not created for either system to profit.

Because this connection is in place the town has been able to refurbish the 500,000- gallon water tank that has not seen major repairs or maintenance for at least 25 years or more.

Up until two years ago, the town only had one water tank. This tank held all of the town's stored water. To supply the necessary amount of water to the town, the town treats water 24-hours a day, seven days a week. During peak demand times the town must rely on the stored water to keep up with the demand. This lowers the water level in the tank.

During the off-peak hours, the town continues to treat water to refill the tank to its proper level. Since the town relies on the 500,000-gallon tank to meet the daily water consumption demand, the tank could not be drained to have major renovations performed to keep it in good condition.

When the new water plant was built, we added a second water tank. The second tank is only 100,000 gallons. With the new tank and the connection to Mount Saint Mary's, the town is now able to refurbish the 500,000-gallon tank. This is the reason the town has been purchasing water from Mount Saint Mary's. The 500,000-gallon tank is being refurbished.

If it were not for the Mount Saint Mary's connection, the town would have two options: truck water in, or ignore the tank's condition and allow it to continue to deteriorate. Ignoring the condition of the tank would soon put us in the same situation we are already in with our sewer and water lines. This tank has already exceeded its life expectancy. Refurbishing the tank was not an option: it was a necessity. To replace this tank would cost the town approximately a million dollars. Refurbishing the tank cost the town approximately $120,000. In addition to refurbishing the tank, we also have a ten-year contract for annual maintenance on the tank to keep it in good condition.

If you have any questions, please feel free to call the town office, or e-mail me at

Jim Hoover

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