Ken Ulman issued a press release today noting that our County has reached a settlement agreement with the Maryland Department of the Environment regarding the discharge of untreated wastewater into "State waters." But don't worry, it's not the fault of our government, paid to oversee and manage the infrastructure of our county, but rather it's YOUR fault, you son of a gun, for all of the Fats, Oils, and Grease you're pouring down your drain. What cracks me up about the release is that no where does it say to what extent "FOG" caused these overflows, and according to an earlier press release, FOG causes a little more than a third of all overflows the county has experienced. Nonetheless, FOG provides a convenient target (hell we spent money on a PR campaign just to quash this menace) and it is easier than saying "We messed up."
The "civil penalties" were not disclosed in the press release, but in addition to whatever fine the County was forced to pay, the "negotiated settlement" included the following:
• Present MDE with a draft Capacity, Management, Operation, and Maintenance Program (CMOM) within 30 days;
• Present MDE with a draft Overflow Emergency Response Plan within 90 days;
• Conduct a performance assessment audit to evaluate the CMOM one year after implementation of the approved CMOM Program and annually during the life of the agreement;
• Communicate with the public regarding implementation and performance of the CMOM Program one year after implementation and annually during the life of the agreement;
• Within 90 days, submit to MDE a report describing any work completed and a schedule for future work to implement the County’s recommendations to correct Inflow & Infiltration and any other sewer defects;
• Submit semi-annual progress reports to MDE; and
• Pay the sum of $58,400 to MDE’s “Clean Water Fund.”
A few questions: Where are our "health" priorities when we have a million dollar HHAP program with 700 participants while our sewage treatment plants are dumping untreated sewage water into the Patapsco river? Why didn't we already have a CMOM program? Most importantly, how was this allowed to happen?
While Howard County officials may down play the damage by suggesting that our County is actually the best polluter out of all the polluting counties, the aggregate that we have contributed to under their watch is disturbing. This is on you, Ken. All the "green" in the world isn't going to help us if we can't take care of the basics. I can only hope the local papers delve into this further, and our representatives come up with some real excuses that amount to more than this: