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This town is plagued by water runoff problems even when it doesn't rain.

Natural underground springs continually run down the steep Spout Hill Road that merges with Main Street at Springfield Avenue.

From the top of the hill near Third Avenue down to Main, sectionsof Spout Hill look like ribbon candy where the road is buckling.

A study of the problem by the town's engineer detailed the reason forthe pavement failure.

"What's happening is that a county sewer pipe runs under the road bed," Town Manager James L. Schumacher said. "The water is flowing along the trench, following the course of least resistance and carrying with it soil particles from around the trench, then the whole thing above it collapses."

The town has been working with the county for almost a year to resolve the problem. Town officials insist that because improper placement of the sewer line is causing the road to collapse, the county should pay at least part of the repairs.

In a meeting with the town last March, county officials were equally adamant that because the spring water belongs to the town, the problem belongs to Sykesville.

An independent engineeringstudy by the county recently was completed, but Keith Kirschnick, newly appointed director of Public Works, said the findings have not been reviewed.

Schumacher said the project would involve three parts:

* The sewer has to be dug up, new material put around the pipe and the trench back filled with new material.

* During constructionthe trench has to be fed into the storm drain system to drain the sewer of excess water, which would be diverted to the storm drain.

*The existing storm drain would be extended south from the train trestle to where it ends a few hundred feet north of Main Street.

The road would need to be closed during construction, he said.

"We nowknow what has to be done and everybody is in agreement that would correct it," Schumacher said. "The question is, who's going to pay for it?"

Schumacher said after the town's engineer works up a cost estimate of the entire project he will send the county a letter with recommendations for resolving the problem.

The town has some money left over from a Community Development Block Grant that could be used for the project, Schumacher said, but he didn't know exactly how much was available.

"I know there's room for compromise," Mayor Lloyd R. Helt Jr. said. "Maybe we can work out a 50-50 payment plan, or maybe we can take care of the surface and the county take care of underneath."

Kirschnick said the commissioners would have to decide whether to help pay the cost of repairs.

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