Officials Identify Cause Of Fruitland Area Water Contamination - 47 ABC - Delmarva's Choice

Officials Identify Cause Of Fruitland Area Water Contamination

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WICOMICO CO., Md. - Septage dumping, the outdated practice of getting rid of septic waste on a farm field in the Fruitland area is believed to have happened from 1952 through the mid 1980s.  That's how Maryland officials say TCE got into the groundwater, but residents who turned out to Tuesday night's meeting appeared less concerned with how it got there, and more concerned with what happens now

Susan Megargee, a realtor, is afraid of how this could effect her business, "we have a property there that has been rented, the owner knows it's gonna be very unlikely because of their inability to state the actual effect that you could get another tenet in there."

With the contamination so extensive, officials say cleaning up the 4,000 foot long contamination area isn't feasible.  An engineering consultant for the city of Fruitland developed an $8 million project to connect the effected neighborhood to the city water supply.

The project would install 38,780 feet of water main piping in a loop around the area, require a 500,000 gallon capacity elevated water storage tank, serve 256 existing residents, and 16 undeveloped lots.  According to officials, the funding just isn't there.

According to a report from MDE, the organization can only provide up to $1.5 million in grant money, leaving the a $6 million funding gap.  Officials don't know where they'll find the remainder of the funds.

Health concerns were also a major topic of discussion at Tuesday's meeting.  Prolonged exposure to TCE can cause cancer.

"We do worry," says Dr. Clifford Mitchell with the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, "the reason that we set a very low level for drinking water is because of the long term cancer risk in the population.  Other than that, I would not expect any significant health effects."

Carbon filters have been placed on 38 of the 284 homes tested, to make the water safe for drinking and bathing, which the EPA has agreed to pay for upkeep until the end of this November.  Then MDE will have to take over the nearly $1,200 per filter per year cost.

Officials hope to know within the next few months how much the state of Maryland and other government bodies will be able to contribute to that $8 million proposal.  Another community meeting will likely be scheduled sometime later in 2013.


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