Coun­cil holds off on La Plata sewer im­prove­ment project

Maryland Independent - - News - By TIF­FANY WATSON twat­son@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @Tif­fIndyNews

The La Plata Town Coun­cil has de­cided to hold off on a project that would up­grade the south­west part of the town’s sewer sys­tem cur­rently in need of re­pairs.

The Sewer Im­prove­ment Plan for the Town of La Pla- ta was pre­sented by Di­rec- tor of Op­er­a­tions Robert F. Stahl Jr. and for­mer mayor Bill Eck­man on Oct. 18. After the pre­sen­ta­tion, the coun­cil re­quested addi- tional time to con­sider the nec­es­sary im­prove­ments for the south­west quad­rant of the town. On Nov. 8, the coun­cil met to fur­ther dis- cuss when the town should go about com­plet­ing the project.

“The town ap­pointed a sewer ad­vi­sory board in 2007 to cre­ate a long range plan,” Stahl said. “We con­sulted with devel- op­ers, en­gi­neers and prop- erty own­ers re­gard­ing the needs and fu­ture plans of the town. The ad­vi­sory board de­vel­oped a sewer im­prove­ment plan that was de­signed to serve the town at its fi­nal pro­jected build­out of 2.5 mil­lions of gal­lons per day.”

The pro­posed plan im­prove­ments in­clude in­creased trunk line to (Waste Water Treat­ment Plant) WWTP, re­place Wil­low Lane Pump Sta- tion, elim­i­nate Hawthorne Road Pump Sta­tion, re­duce over­load on Wash- in­g­ton Av­enue and up- grad­ing the south­west quad­rant sewer.

Eck­man said the pump sta­tions gen­er­ate hy­dro­gen sul­fide and cause pipes and man­holes to self-destruct over time. He said ad­di­tions to the sewer sys­tem — 37 miles of sew- er pipe and 16 pump­ing sta­tions — were de­signed and built by de­vel­op­ers at their own cost.

Stahl and Eck­man said the cost to in­stall the south­west quad­rant while the new Sonic Restau­rant and La Plata United Meth- odist Church are un­der con­struc­tion is less than half the orig­i­nal es­ti­mate.

The to­tal es­ti­mated cost of the south­west quad- rant sewer up­grades is $1,104,656. The area’s big­gest con­cerns in­clude a bot­tle­neck at the in­ter- sec­tion with dif­fi­cult ac- cess, a need for ad­di­tional sewer ca­pac­ity, 50 acres of un­de­vel­oped com­mer­cial high­way zon­ing, 250 acres of un­de­vel­oped mixed use de­vel­op­ment, on-site sep­tic sys­tems on Port To­bacco Road that need to be elim­i­nated, and pump sta­tions that are poorly de­signed and ex­pen­sive to main­tain.

“By com­plet­ing the south­west quad­rant sewer project, the town will have com­plete five of the six pri­or­i­ties es­tab­lished by the Sewer and Water Advi- sory Com­mit­tee 10 years ago to sup­port the an­tici- pated de­vel­op­ment within the ex­ist­ing bor­ders of the town,” said Town Manag- er Daniel Mears. “The es- ti­mate for con­struc­tion is less than half the pro­jected $2.5 mil­lion cost of 10 years ago when it was de­signed. The town has suf­fi­cient fund bal­ance in the sewer util­ity to fund this project. The cur­rent fund bal­ance is ap­prox­i­mately $2.25 mil­lion.”

The coun­cil ad­dressed its own ma­jor con­cerns per­tain­ing to the south­west quad­rant sewer project.

“Do­ing it now would be cost ef­fec­tive be­cause the con­trac­tor is al­ready in place,” Mayor Roy G. Hale said. “From the pre­sen­ta­tion that we had from Stahl and Eck­man, they said this would be the time to con­sider it be­cause it is cost ef­fec­tive.”

Coun­cil­man Keith Back said the town has al­ready com­mit­ted to com­plet­ing a part of the project. He agreed that the plan is much cheaper if they com- plete the up­grades now.

Coun­cil­man Wayne Win- kler and other coun­cil­men ex­pressed their per­sonal views in re­gards to putting off the project for now.

Coun­cil­man Joseph Nor­ris asked about the town be­ing re­im­bursed by de­vel­op­ers for some of the sewer im­prove­ments, which he said he has seen in pre­vi­ous cases.

“My big­gest ques­tion is what would this do for the ser­vice of the Town of La Plata res­i­dents to­day? Noth­ing other than cre­ate new pump sta­tions, which I un­der­stand we’ve had trou­ble with be­fore,” Coun­cil­man Lynn Gil­roy said. “If we look at the en­tire list of what was pro­posed to us, most of those were paid for by some- body else and we don’t know how long it would take for any­one fur­ther south to be­gin de­velop- ment. It could be three or four years or it could never hap­pen. We don’t know what’s go­ing to hap­pen and if we had some other ma­jor is­sue come up right be­hind this, then you would pos­si­bly need that money to han­dle that prob­lem.”

Hale said the coun­cil be­lieves that un­less there is a more guar­an­teed way to en­sure the town will be re­im­bursed for part or all of the costs of the south­west quad­rant sewer up­grades, then the coun­cil would pre­fer to hold off on the project at this time.

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