PRINCESS ANNE — State and Somerset County officials have “come to terms” on an issue that was further delaying the issuance of two well permits for the Princess Anne public water system.
The permits now appear to be on the fast track to approval, said Robin Street, manager of the Somerset County Sanitary District.
“This is a milestone event in the long process,” he said.
Earlier this week, Street took part in a conference call with engineers for the project and officials with the Maryland Department of the Environment to iron out discrepancies about the number of gallons per minute that would be needed from the well.
While MDE calculates the numbers based on population, the Sanitary District bases the number on gallons per day and pump hours, Street said.
Now that the matter is resolved, MDE is expected to advertise a notice of the county’s well applications. If no public hearing is requested, then the permits should be issued soon afterward, he said.
Once the Sanitary District has its permits, it is expected to ask for the dismissal of a lawsuit against MDE. The case is scheduled to be heard in Circuit Court on Oct. 29.
The suit was filed last year after MDE officials refused to issue permits unless the county agreed to treat the water to reduce fluoride.
Last month, the Sanitary Commission signed agreements with MDE and Maryland Environmental Service as part of a settlement of the dispute.
The first agreement with MDE stipulates the county must dismiss the lawsuit once permits are issued for the two wells on Revells Neck Road next to Eastern Correction Institution.
Under the second agreement with MES and the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, the Sanitary Commission will provide some of its water from the new wells to ECI.
In exchange MES, which operates water and sewer systems at the prison, will treat Princess Anne’s water with a new reverse osmosis system.
While the Sanitary Commission will be responsible for the cost of drilling the wells and constructing a water tower, the state will use federal stimulus funds for the construction of the RO plant at ECI.
The new wells will supply water to Princess Anne where a moratorium on water allocations has stopped $84 million in new construction, including 60 units of affordable housing and a student housing complex for the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.
The Sanitary Commission also plans to extend water service to the Westover area.