Carroll County wastewater treatment plants
There are four wastewater treatment plants under the county's jurisdiction, and the generator for each is monitored closely during weather-related emergencies.
If there's a loss of electricity, the generators automatically turn on, according to Joe Barrington, Carroll County's Bureau of Utilities chief.
Filled to capacity, the plant's generators can last anywhere between two and seven days, depending on the facility's size, before they need to be refueled, Barrington said.
"As long as fuel can be hauled in, then we're in good shape," he said.
And there's several different ways the plants could acquire fuel. The county has some stored in an off-site storage facility, and there's also contractors and back-up contractors as a resource for the county wastewater treatment plants.
When Howard County's Little Patuxent Water Reclamation Plant two electrical feeders failed within three hours of each during Superstorm Sandy, the plant went without power for 12 hours.
A total of 19.5 million gallons of sewage spilled during the outage, but it wasn't a health threat because it had become so diluted, Ulman, the county's executive, said.
"Wastewater treatment plants use a tremendous amount of power," he said. "Millions of gallons of water go through there every hour, and it is very power intensive."
In order for a sewage leakage to occur in Carroll County, the volume of water coming through the pipes into the plant would have to be so vast that the tanks become too full, according to Barrington. This, coupled with the plant itself flooding, could lead to an incident.
"It's not so much that you need a big event," he said, "you just need a lot of rain in a small period of time."
While there are many municipal-run wastewater treatment plants around the county, Barrington said it would take more than a 100-year flood to cause the county's plants to overflow.
The four county-run plants are located near South Carroll High School in Winfield, Runnymede School in Mayberry, one in Pleasant Valley off of Halter Road and the largest in Hampstead off of North Woods Trail.
If a plant is located at the bottom of a watershed, it's more prone to flooding.
"Every 50 years or 100 years, you're going to get a storm that's going to be enough that's going to cause you problems," Barrington said, "and there's nothing you can do with it."
Employees learn how to handle incidents through dealing with small storms in the spring and the summer, Barrington said.
"We don't do a lot of specialized training," Barrington said. "They just get experience seeing how the different rain events affect our plant."