Bloomington’s 300 residents are one step closer to getting their long-awaited new water system. Immediately following a public hearing on the issue Monday afternoon at the courthouse, the Garrett County commissioners gave the go-ahead for the Bloomington Water Tank Replacement Project. They also held a hearing on and approved the Puzzley Run Water Improvements Project.
Chief Pat Hudnall, Garrett County Public Works –Public Utilities, provided an overview of the Bloomington water tank replacement initiative.
“This is an emergency project we’ve been faced with since this past winter,” he said.
The town currently has two aging 60,000-gallon water tanks, one of which is out of commission because of freeze-thaw damage. The other tank has been suppling water for the town, but needs to be replaced soon.
Hudnall said the county plans to construct a new 150,000-gallon water tank, which will be used in lieu of the two current ones.
“The existing damaged tank will be demolished, and we will construct the new tank on site without damaging or comprising the existing water treatment plant and lab,” the chief said.
The cost of the tank project is estimated at $510,950. Hudnall said the county has applied for USDA emergency water systems funding.
“We’re expecting a grant award of $410,950,” he said. “The remaining $100,000 will be funded through the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) as a 50/50 (state/county) grant.”
Public Works Director Jay Moyer noted the new tank will hold an extra 30,000 gallons of water, compared to the two current tanks combined.
“It does have some reserve built into it,” he said about the new structure. “This is in the event that Luke (Allegany County) would ever want to expand and go on the system.”
No one at the public hearing voiced any concerns about the project, and the commissioners gave their unanimous approval.
They, Hudnall, and Moyer met with Bloomington residents last month to present their plans for the new tank. Hudnall indicated that after the public hearing was held, bids to construct the tank would be sought as soon as possible.
He also reported that the county is waiting for approval from USDA to seek engineering service bids for a new Bloomington water treatment plant. Actual work on the new facility would begin this fall or next spring, Hudnall said.
Discussions between the county and Bloomington residents about replacing the failing system have been ongoing for about three years.
Another long-awaited project is the Puzzley Run Water Improvements Project. A public hearing was also held on the project Monday at the commissioners’ office.
Consulting engineer Dan Tichinel of RK&K, Baltimore, gave an overview of the project, which will be located along Puzzley Run, about 1.25 mile east of Keyser’s Ridge.
“The thing about Puzzley Run is it’s a Maryland high-quality Tier II stream,” he said. “So, we couldn’t impact the water quality of that stream at all.”
In addition, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources has concerns about the project’s potential impact on the area’s fauna and flora, most notably a rare shrew and orchid.
“To avoid any sort of impacts by mitigation through MDE’s best management practices for stormwater management and sediment control at the site, the water treatment plant itself will be a dual-train 100-gallon-per-minute treatment plant,” Tichinel said.
In addition, the two-level facility will have a contact chamber on the lower level where high-service pumps will pump treated water into the Keyser’s Ridge water system. A lab and chemical storage area will also be located in the plant.
“The water line itself is roughly 3,300 feet,” Tichinel said. “It follows an existing logging road down into the Savage River State Forest. There’s one well down there that Public Utilities has tested, and it’s a good well, and then they’ll be developing another one.”
He noted that the six-inch PVC water line will be installed in such a way as to limit its disturbance of the area and stream.
“One thing we’re going to make sure we do is have a minimal impact on the environment at that well,” Moyer stressed. “We’re going to limit the number of trips back in there as much as possible.”
The estimated cost of the improvements is $1.4 million, which will be funded through two grants.
“One grant is for $1 million from the Maryland Department of Commerce,” Tichinel said. “The other grant is $500,000 from the Appalachian Regional Commission. Those funds will be administered by the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development.”
The project is included in the county’s fiscal year 2018 budget.
“This has been worked on for years and years,” Commissioner Paul Edwards said about the Puzzley Run project.
He noted the county has been purchasing water from nearby Grantsville to supply residents and businesses in the Keyser’s Ridge area for some time. Once the Puzzley Run system is operational; however, the town will have access to the facility’s water in emergency situations.
No one at the public hearing asked questions or voiced concerns about the project. The commissioners unanimously approved the initiative.
Hudnall said the project should go out for bids next week, with construction to follow as soon as possible. The winning contractor will 300 days to complete the project.