Ashley Treatment Center wants to connect to Aberdeen sewer

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The Ashley Addiction Treatment Center outside of Havre de Grace is working with Aberdeen to connect to the city’s wastewater treatment plant, according to proposed updates to Harford County’s Master Water and Sewer Plan.

The planned Ashley-Aberdeen connection was one of a series of updates to the water and sewer plan presented to the Harford County Council during a public hearing Tuesday evening.

The county must update its plan every six months. The updates reflect new development that would connect to public water and sewer as well as proposed or ongoing county, municipal and private capital projects, according to Resolution 016-17.

“Every six months we appear before you to go over the proposed changes that enables county capital projects and developer projects to proceed forward in an orderly fashion,” Darryl Ivins, a civil engineer with the Division of Water and Sewer, said.

The council did not vote on the resolution Tuesday, and no public comments were offered during the hearing. The revisions must be sent to the Maryland Department of the Environment for approval once approved by the council, Ivins said.

Council President Richard Slutzky said connecting Ashley to Aberdeen’s sewer system is “a big project,” since there are no nearby wastewater treatment facilities.

Ashley Addiction Treatment, which offers inpatient and outpatient services to people addicted to drugs and alcohol, is near the county-owned Swan Harbor Farm on a peninsula with the Chesapeake Bay on one side and Swan Creek on the other.

It also has the former Swan Creek Country Club golf course as part of its property that also includes some farmland, which will eventually pose questions about what happens to that undeveloped acreage once it is served by municipal sewage.

The facility is about 4 ½ miles from Aberdeen and about 6 miles from the center of Havre de Grace.

“It’s a big project, but if Ashley is willing to go ahead with it, I guess it will best serve their needs in that part of the Swan Harbor area,” Slutzky said.

Aberdeen City Manager Randy Robertson said Ashley officials have committed to cover the costs of the connection project, and they have already covered the legal costs as they and the city conducted research and prepared a “global” agreement.

“We’re willing to take on the processing element of this — we have capacity — as long as the costs are borne by [Ashley],” Robertson said Wednesday.

Ashley officials approached city leaders last October regarding converting from their facility’s septic system to a public sewer connection, according to Public Works Director Kyle Torster. Both parties signed a formal agreement in July.

“We’re trying to be a good neighbor in meeting their needs,” Torster said.

Torster stressed the project is still in the early stages, and the city and Ashley must work out matters such as the engineering and design of the infrastructure, if Ashley must pre-treat the wastewater before it enters Aberdeen’s system and where the line would connect to the sewer system.

The waste would be moved from Ashley’s property to the municipal system under pressure, rather than a “gravity system,” in which the waste flows under its own power, because of the elevation and distance, according to Torster.

The design and construction of the connection are under Ashley’s purview, but it must meet city as well as MDE requirements, Torster said.

“The city does not intend to build any additional lines or lift stations to satisfy Ashley’s requirements,” he said.

A time frame for the start of construction has not been established yet, according to Torster. The connection would be categorized as S-3 in the Harford master plan, meaning service would be available between one and five years, according to the resolution.

It is categorized as S-6, meaning service would be anticipated in 11 to 20 years, according to Ivins.

Ashley officials couldn’t be reached for comment Wednesday or Thursday.

The engineering firm handling the sewer service request, Morris & Ritchie & Associations referred a reporter to Joseph Snee, a Bel Air lawyer. Snee declined to comment Thursday.

Other water and sewer revisions

Additional revisions in the resolution include:

  • Building infrastructure, such as a 600,000-gallon water tower, booster pumps and a 12-inch water main, to connect the University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health’s proposed Havre de Grace medical center to the City of Havre de Grace water system.
  • Adding language that states MDE’s approval in April of a permit allowing Aberdeen Proving Ground to draw an "annual average” of 1.6 million gallons per day of groundwater and 2.1 million gallons per day during peak-use months.
  • Moving nine lots of the Locust View subdivision north of Bel Air, which have received preliminary plan approval, from the W-5 and S-5 categories to W-3 and S-3, meaning their development window has moved from six to 10 year to one to five years.
  • Recognizing the ongoing construction of the Maryland American Water upland impoundment, a water storage area surrounded by an earthen dam, which will store a backup water supply for the Town of Bel Air. Maryland American, a private firm, celebrated the groundbreaking in July, and the 90 million-gallon facility is expected to be in service in 2019.

“They’ve moved a lot of soil, so they are indeed well on their way,” Councilman Jim McMahan said.

Ivins said the impoundment “will be a very good project for Maryland American Water company customers, as well as Harford County.”

He said later that the impoundment will free up the county’s water capacity for emergencies, as the county has been providing some backup capacity for Maryland American.

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