Clar­i­fy­ing the facts on the SKI sewer

Record Observer - - Opinion - By MARK A. AN­DER­SON and JAMES J. MORAN

We read with in­ter­est the two page “Open Let­ter” from Queen Anne’s Con­ser­va­tion As­so­ci­a­tion Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Jay Fal­stad in the Bay Times and the Record Ob­server regarding the South­ern Kent Is­land San­i­tary Pro­ject and Four Sea­sons. As Four Sea­sons is a mat­ter of lit­i­ga­tion as op­posed to leg­is­la­tion, it is cur­rently in the courts and does not re­quire com­mis­sioner ac­tion; we will with­hold com­ment regarding Four Sea­sons and fo­cus in­stead on QACA’s SKI com­men­tary.

While that Open Let­ter is based more on spec­u­la­tion than fact, we were happy to see that QACA has fi­nally ac­knowl­edged there are valid rea­sons for pro­vid­ing sewer. This in it­self is progress for as re­cently as June 2014, in a pa­per en­ti­tled QACA A Work­ing Pa­per on SKI Sewer, which can be found on their web­site, they were rec­om­mend­ing that res­i­dents be ed­u­cated to avoid con­tact with con­tam­i­nated sur­face wa­ters to re­duce health risks. While we sup­pose this is good ad­vice for those trav­el­ing to a third world coun­try, we feel our cit­i­zens de­serve much bet­ter than this. We would like to of­fer clar­ity on a num­ber of is­sues dis­cussed in the let­ter, specif­i­cally:

Pro­ject Cost — it is cor­rect that the con­struc­tion bids have come in over the es­ti­mated bud­get. It is a com­plex pro­ject that will in­volve the con­trac­tor do­ing work on all 775 ex­ist­ing home lots in Kent Is­land Es­tates and Ro­man­coke (Phase I). It will be time con­sum­ing, costly and hon­estly an in­con­ve­nience to the home­own­ers dur­ing con­struc­tion. We know that and that is one of the rea­sons we have com­mit­ted to keep­ing the cost of the pro­ject to home­own­ers at $100 per month for 20 years. This is a com­mit­ment we will not break and are work­ing with the State and our staff to ac­com­plish and we are con­fi­dent we will.

Sewer Sys­tem Al­ter­na­tives — 80 per­cent of the homes in the nine com­mu­ni­ties that com­prise the SKI ser­vice area: Ro­man­coke, Kent Is­land Es­tates, Tower Gar­dens, Queen Anne Colony, Kent­morr, Sunny Isle of Kent,

Nor­mans, Mat­a­peake Es­tates and Ch­e­sa­peake Es­tates have fail­ing sep­tic systems due to three fac­tors, 1) sea­sonal high ground wa­ter; 2) small lot sizes that pre­vent re­place­ment drain fields to be in­stalled; and 3) poorly drained soils. Th­ese three fac­tors pre­vent the­o­ret­i­cal alternative systems from be­ing practical al­ter­na­tives; they sim­ply do not work in SKI, nor will they as long as th­ese fac­tors re­main. The Sep­tic Tank Ef­flu­ent Pump sys­tem that the county is uti­liz­ing pumps the ef­flu­ent to the Kent Is­land En­hanced Ni­tro­gen Re­moval (ENR) treat­ment plant where it is ef­fec­tively treated to Mary­land De­part­ment of the En­vi­ron­ment’s high stan­dards.

Use of Bay Restoration Funds — Bay Restoration Funds are col­lected by the state from ev­ery user served by a waste wa­ter treat­ment plant or sep­tic sys­tem in Mary­land. The

fees are $5 per month, and the funds are dis­trib­uted be­tween waste wa­ter treat­ment plant up­grades, sep­tic sys­tem up­grades and cover crop pro­grams.The BRF funds pro­posed to be used in SKI will be for ex­ist­ing homes only and will off­set the cost to th­ese home­own­ers by $10,000. State law pro­hibits the use of BRF funds to be used for new devel­op­ment.

Use of Pub­lic Tax Dol­lars as a Guar­an­tee to Sup­port Pri­vate Land Deals — Through legally re­quired lot con­sol­i­da­tions and merg­ers, lim­it­ing va­cant lots to be served to those that front on roads des­ig­nated to get sewer and elim­i­nat­ing large tracts of lots that have “pa­per streets” only, the County suc­cess­fully re­duced the num­ber of va­cant lots to be served from over 1600 to 632. Th­ese va­cant lots that are now build­able will not re­ceive the $10,000 BRF grants, and the own­ers that de­cide to build will be re­quired to pay an es­ti­mated $25,600 or greater Eco­nomic Ben­e­fit Pre­mium (EBP), $7,750 al­lo­ca­tion fee

plus the cost to in­stall the STEP sys­tem. Pay­ing th­ese costs, not pub­lic tax dol­lars, “guar­an­tee” the right to build on th­ese lots.

We can­not con­tinue to let the fail­ing sep­tic systems in the SKI Com­mu­ni­ties de­te­ri­o­rate fur­ther. This is a 30-year-old prob­lem that must be ad­dressed now. Pub­lic health em­pha­sizes pre­ven­tion over treat­ment and pump­ing sep­tic ef­flu­ent to an MDE reg­u­lated ENR treat­ment plant is an in­cred­i­bly more ef­fi­cient and safe way to treat waste than sep­tic systems. The Mary­land De­part­ment of the En­vi­ron­ment, Mary­land De­part­ment of Plan­ning, Mary­land De­part­ment of Health and Men­tal Hy­giene, Queen Anne’s County Health De­part­ment, nu­mer­ous in­de­pen­dent ex­perts and now even Queen Anne’s Con­ser­va­tion agree we have a prob­lem. You have our vote to fix it.

Mark A. An­der­son rep­re­sents District 4 and is pres­i­dent of the Queen Anne’s County Com­mis­sion­ers. James J. Moran is the at­large mem­ber of the Board of County Com­mis­sion­ers.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.