County Comment: Connecting City and County Sewer Line Benefits Everyone

County Comment
Connecting City and County Sewer Line Benefits Everyone
by Norman Bassett, Washington County Public Information Officer

Maryland Congressman Roscoe Bartlett was among a number of Federal and State County and City officials who dug in and helped break ground for the Newgate Industrial Park Interceptor Sewer, which was held on Monday, October 3 on Hopewell Road.
When the project is complete, the $1.826 million cooperative effort will connect
the County sewer system to the City's sewer system at the pump station along Western Maryland Parkway. This will allow the City to transfer some of the existing sewerage flow to the County's Conococheague Wastewater Treatment Plant.
Washington County, the City of Hagerstown, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE), the Appalachian Regional Commission, and a local developer all partnered to make the project a success.
In speaking to the event, Bartlett said that $450,000 in federal funds for the project are Washington County citizens' tax dollars being returned to the community.
The United State Department of Agriculture Rural Development Office is providing over $201,000 in the form of grants and loans ton the project.
Marlene Elliott, USDA Delaware/Maryland Director of Rural Development said,
"One of the greatest challenges affecting municipalities and County governments today is the cost and also the complexity of providing adequate disposal of wastewater and clean drinking water for both business opportunities and for residences. One of the missions at Rural Development is to be able provide assistance to those programs. Our mission at Rural Development is to increase the quality of life across rural America and across rural Maryland."
The Maryland Department of the Environment is providing $650,000 of the cost.
George Keller, MDE Manager of Water Quality Infrastructure Programs talked about intra-governmental cooperation.
"Each project seems to take on its own identity, and today it looks like the Power of Two. We're talking about two facilities, the Conococheague and the City of Hagerstown (treatment) Plant, two jurisdictions working together. We're talking about the economy and the environment benefiting by using those facilities in an apolitical manner to serve the residents of Washington County and benefit the environment in the same way."
Keller said that relationships between governmental bodies were the key to the success of the project, "There was the city-county relationship, there was the relationship with the county and MDE, right now we have 11 projects, about $27 million dollars going on across the county, so this is one of many. Rural Development and MDE, it takes the benefit of state and local funding. Pulling together all of these sources of funding takes a lot of work. We've been very fortunate, as has Washington County, to have great support from the Legislature down in Annapolis. The fact that we're able to get Federal Funding through our congressional delegation means that there is that much more state money that we can use in other projects in Washington County."
"Everybody's pulled together on this and I can talk from a project standpoint, four years ago we were a long way away, and there were two occasions when the department was concerned about the expenditures and taking the money away, but that just made the County and the City redouble their efforts to pull this off."
The interconnector project was one of the issues that the County and City worked on in its "2+2" committee meetings over the last several years. The project is an outcome of the Flow Transfer Agreement between the City of Hagerstown and the County Commissioners was approved and became effective in 2003.
Project construction involves installation of 6,500 linear feet of PVC sewer pipe with some of the construction occurring in streambeds and wetland areas, which pose challenges that may require temporary stream diversions and wetland dewatering. A "jack and bore" will allow construction to occur under Interstate 81. Digging under the Interstate is a critical and costly operation due to the bore distance required and the State Highway's Maintenance of Traffic Plan.
Department of Water Quality Director Greg Murray said the project, "will benefit the service areas by interconnecting the two plants that are limited in capacities right now. By interconnecting the two plants growth can continue in designated areas inside and outside the city that is a tributary to their plant, and come here so it doesn't impact their plant."
Murray said there would be extra capacity in the city that there would not be without the interconnector when the project is complete.