Fluoride Action Network

Somerset: Panel says no to water funds

Source: The Daily Times | Staff Writer
Posted on February 4th, 2009
Location: United States, Maryland

PRINCESS ANNE — Frustrated by a process designed to find answers to an ongoing water shortage, Somerset County Sanitary Commission members said they do not want any part of a plan proposed earlier in the week by state officials.

At a meeting Thursday, members voted unanimously not to apply for funding for a reverse osmosis water treatment system or to enter into partnerships with any state agencies.

“This mediation process is like buying a used car,” said Tony Stockus, a Sanitary Commission member. “Things are being pushed down our throats.”

Four days earlier at a meeting to discuss water issues, state and local officials talked about the possibility of Somerset County seeking federal economic stimulus funds for a reverse osmosis system, as well as a possible partnership with the state prison system for a shared RO system at Eastern Correctional Institution in Westover.

A meeting to further discuss the options was scheduled for this week, but Robin Street, manager of the Sanitary District, said he will not attend now that commission members have voted not to proceed.

Street said he also was in the process of drafting a letter to Gov. Martin O’Malley to explain the Sanitary Commission’s decision on funding.

Earlier last week, the Somerset County Commissioners included a request for $17 million for a RO water system as part of the county’s $36.3 million wish list for economic stimulus money.

The letter was signed last Tuesday and mailed shortly afterward.

In the meantime, the Sanitary Commission also is waiting for a decision in a court case that will be heard this Friday in Circuit Court.

In October, the Sanitary Commission filed a lawsuit against the state Department of the Environment in an attempt to get permits for two wells on property adjacent to ECI.

MDE officials have refused to issue the permits unless the county agrees to treat the water to reduce FLUORIDE under goals established by the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

However, county officials have argued that the fluoride level in the water is considered acceptable under federal standards for drinking water, and that MDE has no authority to deny the permits based only on goals which have never been adopted as enforceable standards by the EPA.