County Comment: Commissioners Hear Environmental Concerns

County Comment
Commissioners Hear Environmental Concerns
by Norman Bassett
Washington County Public Information Officer

In its regular meeting on March 13, the Washington County Board of County Commissioners heard about two environmental issues in the County.
Boonsboro resident Donna Brightman and Emilie Cooper, a Watershed Forester with the Maryland Forest Service, brought information on formation of an alliance of interested groups, agencies and individuals to be called the Antietam Creek Watershed Alliance (ACWA) and activities planned to clean up the creek, to the Board.
ACWA is holding a public education and organizational meeting at 7pm on March 27 at the Quality Inn on Dual Highway in Hagerstown, to talk about measures it says need to be taken to enhance, preserve and protect the Antietam Creek Watershed. Further information is available from Cooper at 301-791-4733.
One of the first goals of the group, Brightman said, is to develop a strategic plan of action to revitalize Antietam Creek along its entire length, starting at the Pennsylvania line, near Waynesboro and traveling south until it exits Washington County near Antietam, into the Potomac River.
An evaluation and needs assessment will be performed, through a grant Cooper will write through the Forest Service.
The Commissioners were requested to provide support for the project through interaction with environmentally-related departments and possible provision of in-kind assistance in hauling trash collected along the creek banks. County Administrator Greg Murray said the Department of Water Quality will help the group.
Projects would improve the appearance of the stream, promote economic development opportunities, and aid restoration of Chesapeake Bay. A PowerPoint presentation that currently the Creek does not meet water quality standards, has inadequate buffering along its length and is the site of illegal dumping.
One local organization, Citizens for Protection of Washington County (CPWC) announced that is has joined the collaborative during the Commissioners' meeting.
In a separate action, a plan to pump leacheate from the 40-West landfill to the Conococheague Waste Water Treatment Plant, that could save taxpayers about $9 million, was approved.
Department of Public Works Director Joe Kroboth brought this plan, that would be a public-private partnership between the County and the developer of Powers Estates, which will be constructed in the northeast quadrant of Huyett's Crossroads, near the landfill.
Leacheate is rainwater that becomes contaminated when it makes contact with trash in a landfill. The water is stored in tanks on the landfill site, then trucked to the Conococheague plant for treatment. 3 million gallons of the effluent are hauled and treated each year, at county taxpayer expense.
Kroboth told the Commissioners that $8.98 million in those costs could be saved over the 45-year life of the landfill, in hauling costs alone.
The developer is constructing sewer lines to the proposed 100-unit subdivision, and had granted the County a five-acre tract of land for public use as part of an Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance mitigation agreement. The new plan would see upsizing of sewer pipes at developer cost to accommodate the leacheate flow, connection to the County's existing sewer line and granting of a permanent easement to the County across the development. In exchange, the County would reduce the size of the donated parcel by 2 acres, allowing the developer to construct additional housing units. The remaining three acres could be used for a Fire and Emergency Services station or another public use.
As part of the measure, approval was given for construction of a pumping station at the landfill and connecting infrastructure to the developer's site. The cost of that project, $943,450.00 would be paid through Solid Waste and Water Quality departments' operational savings.