PRINCESS ANNE — Local and state officials hope Somerset County gets a share of anticipated federal stimulus money to build wells and associated treatment processing equipment — funding needed to move forward with construction of major developments in and around the county seat of Princess Anne and overall area growth.
The Somerset County Sanitary Commission is submitting preliminary application forms to the Maryland Department of the Environment for consideration of two options — to build county operated-and-maintained wells and an associated reverse osmosis plant to treat the water; and to build a similar plant in partnership with the Maryland Environmental Services and the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services for a shared venture that would spread costs and operation functions between the entities.
Somerset Sanitary District Manager Robin Street announced plans for the pre-applications at a Monday meeting of a water task force made up of officials from the county the town of Princess Anne, MDE and MES and formed last fall to resolve a county water shortage that forced an indefinite moratorium on major construction. Funding would also help pay for a multimillion-dollar reverse osmosis treatment system that would treat water from an aquifer where levels of fluoride exceed the state allowance.
Street also said Somerset is “shovel ready” in a process to break ground on new wells on the north end of town near the University of Maryland Eastern Shore and Loretta Road. “We’re expecting permits from the U.S. (Department of Agriculture) any day.
MES, a quasi-government firm that operates water systems for the Eastern Correctional Institution prison in Somerset County, also is “shovel ready” to break ground on a new well and reverse osmosis plant at ECI, but is willing to re-work design plans to partner with and accommodate Somerset County water needs, Ellen Frketic, an MES official told the group.
David Nemazie, a water task force facilitator, said analysts from MDE, MES and other agencies would weigh engineering and cost requirements of the two options before the group assembles for further discussion, likely in about a month.
Nemazie called Monday’s session one of the most productive since the group formed. “We’ve made a lot of great progress today,” he said.