A public hearing was held today at 11:00 a.m. in the County Commissioners’ Hearing Room, County Government Center, Chestertown, Maryland, for the purpose of reviewing and receiving comments on the proposed updated Comprehensive Water and Sewerage Plan for Kent County, MD.
Commissioner Crow read the Notice of Public Hearing into the record.
County Commissioners Roy Crow and Ronald Fithian, were in attendance as well as Thomas N. Yeager, County Attorney, Susanne Hayman, County Administrator, Gail Owings, Director of Planning, Wayne Morris, Director of Water and Wastewater Services, Karl Weed, Deputy Director, Water and Wastewater Service, Dana Pizzarro, and Erin Burke, representing O’Brien & Gere, and John Beskid, Director, Environmental Services. Others in attendance were: John Vail, Sassafras River Association, Tom Leigh, representing the Chester River Association, Galena Council Member Bill Blake, five interested persons and two members of the media.
Mr. Pizarro, Consulting Engineer, stated that the plan needs to be compliant with long range plans for placement of water and sewer systems in the county. The last update to the plan was completed in 2005. Because of the significant changes in the new planning requirements, the State is giving a grace year to complete the update. The plan needs to be fully integrated with the County Comprehensive Plan and the Critical Areas program. The plan must also comply with House Bill 1141 relating to the water and wastewater resources elements, which links planning and growth decision making to scientific resource management and the Kent County Comprehensive Plan. Mr. Pizarro reviewed new legislation that significantly affected the update to the Comprehensive Water and Sewer Plan, including House Bill 1058- Sewage Sludge Utilization Permits, Senate Bill 554- Chesapeake Bay Nitrogen Reduction Act of 2009, and House Bill 1105- The Private Wastewater Treatment Act of 2009. He also reviewed the timeline for the Comprehensive Water and Sewerage Plan development process. Mr. Pizarro reviewed the goals and objectives for each chapter, as well as the important highlights of the plan as follows:
Chapter 1- The denied access line policy and the Sewer Allocation Policy were updated. Recommended Action Items were created, including an onsite sewage disposal systems survey, capacity management plans, and source water protection ordinance.
Chapter 2- In 2009, Water and Wastewater Treatment Plants have capacity, with the exception of Millington and Galena. Chestertown has been upgraded to Enhanced Nutrient Removal (ENR) and upgrades for Worton and Millington are being planned. There are currently no reported water supply problems and aquifers are being studied due to concerns on the Lower Eastern Shore.
Mr. Pizzarro commented that although aquifers have begun to show signs of heavy demand from western shore counties, Kent County’s water supply is adequate for the near future.
Chapter 3 & 4- Water and Wastewater Treatment Plant upgrades and amendments from the past have been incorporated, as well as previous amendments. Source water assessments were prepared and mapping and graphics were updated and improved.
Chapter 5- The State of Maryland as well as Kent County have their own stormwater regulations as well as the land use ordinance section. On-Site Disposal Systems and problem areas include Chesapeake Landing, Golts, Still Pond Coleman, and Lover’s Lane. The Middle and Upper Chester and Sassafras watersheds are listed on the 303D impaired water list.
Commissioner Crow stated that the problem areas listed do not directly impact the Sassafras River. Areas along the Sassafras River such as Fox Hole Estates, Kentmore Park, Shorewood Estates, Gregg Neck and Georgetown have been left out. He questioned whether these areas should be identified. Mr. Morris stated that this has been discussed with the Health Department but they have never been directly identified in the Comprehensive Water and Sewerage Plan. He stated that the expertise and knowledge is not available to identify these areas as problem areas in the plan. He also stated that the Maryland Department of Planning would require documentation in order to place these areas in the plan. Commissioner Crow suggested that the areas be added to the plan as areas recommended to be looked at for further investigation in the future. Mr. Morris agreed that a note can be added to the plan identifying these areas as potential problem areas.
Current programs that are available to assist in stormwater and nutrient management as listed in Chapter 5 of the plan were identified. No one landowner or government agency can solve the problem independently.
Ms. Burke provided an overview of the technical analysis conducted for the point source loading for the wastewater treatment plants. Among other things, the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) wants to see that counties are looking at the available capacity of existing treatment facilities and estimating needed capacity to include designated growth areas, infill areas and additional project development. The Wastewater Treatment Plants are divided into significant (>.05 MGD-ASAP) and non-significant (< .5 MGD – Long Term Goal). Significant wastewater treatment plants plan to upgrade to Enhanced Nutrient Removal (ENR) levels as soon as possible. Chestertown is the only significant wastewater treatment plant in Kent County and it has already upgraded to ENR. Worton and Millington are non-significant and have plans to upgrade to ENR level in the future. Ms. Burke reviewed the nutrient caps for Kent County as well as the flow/concentration/load relationship. She reviewed a nutrient loading summary chart for bubble permits and informed that these permits allow nutrient capacity permits to be shared for facilities. Currently, there is enough capacity to allow all county plants and county owned plants to be combined under one permit; however, in 2030 the county will be over the nutrient limit for county wide cap and the county owned plant cap. Once planned upgrades are incorporated into the analysis, there will be adequate capacity. Commissioner Fithian questioned how bubble permits actually help the real problem. Mr. Morris stated that the bubble permits allow capital costs to be deferred. Mr. Vail echoed Commissioner Fithian’s statement and expressed concerns regarding allowing bubble permits for plants that do not share a watershed. Ms. Burke reviewed the equivalent dwelling unit analysis which shows how many dwelling units can be added to an area before the treatment plant reaches its capacity.
Mr. Pizarro reviewed the Water Planning portion of the Comprehensive Water and Sewerage Plan. He noted that many of Kent County’s towns are currently operating under their available capacity. He informed that the Maryland and U.S. Geological Surveys have developed a Science Plan for a Comprehensive Regional Assessment of the Atlantic Coastal Plain Aquifer System. The non point source loading for water comes from a variety of sources including the waste discharge and treatment plants.
Mr. Pizarro reviewed the water resources element criteria for the non point source loading as well as the approach for non-point source loading. Water resources element review criteria includes non point source loading, stormwater management and nutrient loading. The approach used for the non point source loading looks at the six watersheds in Kent County. Nutrient loading rates from 2002 are used as well as tributary strategy loading rates. A land use composite from 2002 is used as well as a future 2030 MDP growth simulation model.
Mr. Pizarro stated that agriculture is being targeted as the largest single sector source of the water pollution based on the draft of the Chesapeake Bay Eco Restoration System Act of 2009. He noted that the Chesapeake Bay legislation was created mostly to address conditions on the Western Shore. Ms. Owings concurred and added that a large majority of Kent County is agricultural.
Commissioner Crow questioned whether there is an element in the plan that deals with wildlife control. Mr. Morris stated that there is not.
Bob Kramer questioned why there is not a unified water and sewer system in Maryland. Mr. Morris stated that incorporated towns have the right to control and govern their own sewer systems. Counties do not have the incorporation to create a system, therefore, they have to establish a sanitary commission or take the systems under their own umbrella.
Mr. Morris noted that the Commissioners have been very proactive in promoting system upgrades. Mr. Pizarro thanked Ms. Owings, Carla Gerber, Community Planner, and Amy Moredock, Environmental Planner, for their valuable input contributed into this proposed plan.
This hearing was taped for reference and adjourned at 12:10 p.m.
Written comments will be accepted until October 2, 2009 at 2:00 p.m.
Janice F. Fletcher
Roy W. Crow, President