Maryland counties continue to tackle sewer problems

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Maryland towns continue to work on fixing issues of aging sewer systems. Kent County will have a public hearing on March 27 that covers an extensive plan for the county. The plan discusses the county’s roadmap over the next 10 years.

The draft of the plan is 136 pages and pertains to the development and land use.

Kent plans to maintain its agriculture industry and that is evident from the first page of the report. The report claims that public sewer lines are in place in all five towns, and about half of the county’s population uses public sewer lines.

Groundwater bacterial contamination is present in some areas, and projections indicate that 50% of new residents will rely on septic systems by 2040. The county is trying to find a way to lower bacterial contamination before the 2040 estimate.

Aging sewer systems have also been a major problem in Maryland, with more towns taking measures to stop clogs and bursts.

Anne Arundel County claims that over the past few years, the country has had to conduct major sewer repair, with a 35% increase in clogged sewer lines and broken pumps. The culprit, aside from the aging sewer systems, is the use of “flushable wipes” that have made their way into septic systems.

The wipes have been the key cause for many clogs in recent years, with the most well-known being a 20-foot clog in Baltimore in 2017. The clog was caused by a combination of flushable wipes and grease that formed what officials called a “fatberg.” The fatberg clogged a two-foot-wide pipe and was detected by sewage overflows.

The clog cost the city an estimated $60,000 to remove and demanded the creation of a bypass line, water jets, a vacuum truck and a scraper to remove the clog.

Officials claim that the one-hundred-year-old sewer systems were not designed to handle flushable wipes. The wipes, often marketed as disposable, do not break down inside of the sewer systems. Some cities are going as far as banning disposable wipes from being able to be flushed down toilets.

Enforcing the law may be difficult, but it would help ease the strain on Maryland’s aging sewer systems.

Baltimore officials did approve a 13-year sewer repair plan in August 2017. The plan is estimated to cost the city $1.6 billion and will help stop wastewater from entering the Inner Harbor. The plan will also rehabilitate the city’s aged sewer system by 2030.

Baltimore missed a previous deadline 15 years ago.

Residents will be the ones paying for the extensive work with higher sewer bills. Counties around Baltimore that use the city’s water infrastructure may also see higher sewer bills. A new program that was introduced at the time also sets aside a minimum of $2 million per year to cover cleanup costs if sewage backs up into homes.

The city and regulators had been working on a deal for years before the recent approval. The city formerly had an agreement with the EPA that was meant to rehab the sewer system, but the deadline of the end of 2015 was missed.

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