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County Briefs 4/10/15

(April 10, 2015) The Worcester County Commissioners discussed the following issues during their most recent regular meeting.

Anomalies at landfill

Groundwater sampling at the central landfill detected chloroform and a commonly used fuel additive methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE), setting off increased monitoring required by the Maryland Department of the Environment.

Public Works Director John Tustin said the detected levels were “under health hazard limits.”

The increased monitoring will be performed by the contractor already watching the landfill, EA Engineering, at an increased cost of about $32,000.

Fines levied for overflows

Material failures, and not operator errors, were to blame for a series of sewer leaks dating from June 2011, Public works Director John Tustin said, and are punishable by fines up to $10,000 per day.

The Maryland Department of Environment offered to settle all the claims at once for $8,000. Commissioner A. Chip Bertino asked if the county was in a position to negotiate a lower amount, but acknowledged the MDE could demand the entire amount in return.

The commissioners agreed to pay the $8,000 fine.

Girdletree pier nixed

When the commissioners reconstructed the boat ramp at Taylor’s Landing, they replaced a vertical bulkhead with riprap where the community had previously been crabbing and fishing.

Administrator Harold Higgins reported attending a meeting with community members, former Commissioner Virgil Shockley, and Commissioner Merrill Lockfaw. Higgins said there was less than $10,000 allotted for the design of a replacement fishing pier, to which Public Works Director John Tustin said was more than enough.

The commissioners ultimately voted to not pursue the design, to the consternation of Lockfaw.

“The south end of the county pays the same taxes of the north. I’d like you to keep this in mind if you expect my support in the future,” Lockfaw said.

Mystic Harbour hearing

The construction project to connect the water systems of Mystic Harbour, The Landings, and Assateague Pointe is scheduled to begin Aug. 15, and to be completed before March 2016.

A public hearing on the project will be held at the April 21 commission meeting.

The project is estimated to cost $1.2 million and will be paid for by an upcoming bond issue.

Sewer screen replaced

In constant use since 2004, the screen to remove debris from wastewater prior to treatment needs to be replaced.

Parts can only be ordered from the manufacturer, and will cost an estimated $25,000. County employees will do the work, but will require a field technician from the manufacturer to oversee the process for an additional $3,400.

Director John Tustin said current-year budget surpluses in water, sewage collections and treatment plant accounts can pay for the replacement.

Mosquito budget

The county commissioners authorized the continuation of the mosquito control program.

The Public Works department reported participation was down from last year, but the change to collecting the $65 per household participation fee up front “seemed to work very well.”

The total proposed county funding for the season is $83,940.

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