PRINCESS ANNE — A lawsuit filed by the Somerset County Sanitary Commission against the state Department of the Environment in an attempt to get well permits will be heard Thursday in Circuit Court.
The suit — filed in October — seeks the permits for two wells in the Patapsco aquifer on Revells Neck Road, which would serve existing customers in Princess Anne as well as allow an expansion of services into Westover.
The suit claims Secretary of the Environment Shari Wilson has refused to sign the permits although the water in the wells “complied with all applicable standards.”
For the past two years, Wilson has said treatment is necessary to reduce fluoride under goals established by the federal Environmental Protection Agency.
However, county officials have argued the fluoride level in the water is considered acceptable under federal standards for drinking water, and Wilson has no authority to deny the permits based only on goals, which have never been adopted as enforceable standards by the EPA.
“Since the secretary arbitrarily denied the Commission’s proposal to blend the water of different aquifers and the cost of a reverse osmosis system is substantial, and funding is unavailable, the effect of Secretary Wilson’s decision has been to block completely the Revells Neck Well Project, to the detriment of the many individuals and businesses who are deprived of the water supply it would afford,” the lawsuit states.
Although the Sanitary Commission voted in March to sue if MDE continued to deny the permits, they delayed action at the request of County Commissioners who hoped to work out a compromise.
Since then, there have been several meetings with state officials, which led to the appointment of a facilitator to help resolve a stalemate over water supply issues.