Feb 27, 2008

Maryland Well Treatment Program to Cost $7 Million More Than Expected

Maryland Department of the Environment is requiring the water to be treated before it is pumped

The estimated cost of treating wells in Maryland’s Patapsco aquifer with a reverse osmosis system is now expected to cost $13.5 million -- about $7 million more than the original cost of the project, an engineer for the project told the Somerset County Sanitary Commission, The Daily Times reported.

For the past several years, the sanitary commission has planned to drill wells at a site on property next to Eastern Correctional Institution (ECI) to supplement the Princess Anne, Md., water supply, and also to extend water lines to Westover, Md., and has been approved for a $6.5 million federal loan for the work, the paper reported.

However, Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) policy requires treatment of water to reduce fluoride to 2 mg/L, and the water in the Revells Neck Road wells measure slightly higher. MDE is requiring the water be treated before it can be pumped.

Although MDE has recommended reverse osmosis to treat the Patapsco wells, Bob Palmer of Daft, McCune and Walker, Inc., said there are less expensive options to consider. One option is blending the Patapsco water with water from another aquifer, and another is finding another water source.

In January, the sanitary commission agreed to pay for test wells in the Manokin and Pocomoke aquifers.

State officials have indicated they will allow the sanitary commission to pump untreated water from two existing wells at the site next to ECI while existing wells in the Princess Anne public water system undergo rehabilitation, the paper reported.

Delegate Page Elmore has asked Gov. Martin O'Malley to let the sanitary commission pump from the wells until new wells with reverse osmosis treatment systems can be installed, and has also asked the state to help fund the project, the paper reported.

Until the new system is up and running, the county would be under a three-year consent order with the Department of the Environment.