State Wants More Info On St. Mary's Water, Sewer Plans

By Guy Leonard, County Times

LEONARDTOWN, Md. (May 29, 2008)—The Maryland Department of the Environment’s (MDE) water supply branch says that it needs more information on the amount of water being drawn from aquifers to supply the Lexington Park area, as in years past the amount has, according to the state, exceeded that allocated for one of the most developed portions of the county.

The state made their concerns known to the county government in a May 21 letter.

“MDE’s Water Supply Program (WSP) indicated that water use in past years in the Lexington Park water system has exceeded the permitted water appropriation and the county MetCom (Metropolitan Commission) has applied to the WSP to increase the permitted water use,” the letter stated. “The county must explain to the WSP how it was determined that the Lexington Park water system had been judged to be adequate, considering past water use and provide to the WSP a water capacity management plan for the Lexington Park water system.”

Denis Canavan, director of the Department of Land Use and Growth Management said that the information requested by the state was needed to implement the new plan.

“With that information we’ll be in a better position to have them [the state] approve the water and sewage plan,” Canavan said.

Representatives with the MDE said that they would assist the county in making revisions to the plan.

“We’re trying to give them a little more time to make sure their water and sewer plan matches water capacity,” Kim Lamphier, MDE spokesperson told The County Times.

Steven King, director of MetCom said that while some portions of the Lexington Park water system have gone over their allocation of water usage, others have remained below and overall the system is working well within its limits.

“That’s not true,” King said of some of the statements in the MDE letter. “We’ve not exceeded the total appropriation for the Lexington Park water system.”

King said that the total allocation for the Lexington Park system was about 3.4 million gallons of water a day. The total usage in 2007 came to about 2.7 million gallons a day.

“The flow rate was a shade under 80 percent,” King told The County Times Tuesday. “That’s the level MDE recommends for their capacity guidelines.”

King said that the notion of putting together a water management plan for systems throughout the county had been under consideration for some time now.

It made sense to have the guidelines, King said, for the same reasons guidelines were in place to track the level of capacity at sewage and wastewater treatment plants.

“It’s to ensure the county doesn’t approve more equivalent dwelling units (the amount of water used by one dwelling unit a day) than the water supply can serve.”

The Lexington Park water system serves the area from Wildewood down to South Hampton, King said.

MetCom has been dealing with other issues concerning the Lexington Park area as well this past year, including whether to build an expansion for the Marlay-Taylor sewage treatment plant or, with the U.S. Navy’s permission and possible donation of land a completely new facility to keep up with the demand for waste water treatment from increasing growth.

The facility upgrades would also ensure that the county was coming into compliance with the state’s mandate to reduce the amount of nitrogen and phosphorous being released back in to the Chesapeake Bay.

King said that weather patterns also played a role in how much water flowed through the system, including last years drought which caused residents to use more system water for things like irrigation.

“If it keeps raining like it has the past few months… I expect to see flow rates decrease,” King said.

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