SALISBURY — The Wicomico County comprehensive water and sewer plan is nearly 20 years old, but it will continue to age after the County Council asked staff Tuesday to return with more recommendations for private plants, a water and sewer authority and adding fluoride to more systems.
Few questions were resolved after a nearly one hour work session discussion about the future of Wicomico County water and sewer planning, but progress was made to finalize the overdue draft. This complicated but imperative document formalizes where all public water connections are, including all eight municipalities, and where they should be for the next decade.
“This allows us to see where we have been and where we are going,” county Public Works Director Rai Sharma said Monday.
That input from the seven-member council was largely more questions and decisions, particularly the if and how of private water and sewer facilities that could pop up anywhere in the county unless restrictions are outlined. County Council President John Cannon said he was concerned that without the proper placement, the plants could become as common as strip malls.
The technology and type of systems that are plausible for the county are still under review by Sharma, but the safety of county residents has been considered, he said.
Council Vice President Stevie Prettyman asked if financial and other transfer plans are required should a private plant operator forfeit or close their business. Sharma has recommended an escrow account be in place to offset costs the county would incur to operate the plant.
The council members echoed a fear that uncontrolled growth of these systems would hinder future resources.
“As the county continues to grow, water capacity and other needs must be looked at,” said Councilwoman Sheree Sample-Hughes.
County Zoning Director Jack Lenox said regulating the facilities through the zoning code would create the necessary guidelines.
Cannon also suggested that the county could be ready for its own water and sewer authority that could monitor and oversee facilities in an emergency.
Councilwoman Gail Bartko-vich pushed for more fluoride in county systems to promote oral care. A health department official said only 39 percent of county residents receive water with the chemical that protects teeth in minute doses.
“It can impact the health of school-aged children,” Bartko-vich said. “The idea behind fluoride is when teeth develop, fluoride in the tooth makes teeth strong and fight against decay.”