Don Leister says he'll hook up the rental property he owns i downtown Pleasant Valley when the new public water and sewer systems come through, but he hopes county officials will schedule an informational meeting before construction starts.
"You know there's going to be some cost, just so it's not too heavy," Mr. Leister said.
Residents of the small community northwest of Westminster can be sure the rates will be higher than the cost of pumping out septic tanks approximately every three years and the $21 quarterly charge that approximately 60 customers used to pay to the owners of a private water company.
Although rates have not been established for the Pleasant Valley system, Freedom District customers currently pay quarterly usage charges of $15.59 minimum plus 60 cents per 1,000 gallons for water and $20.92 minimum plus $1.49 per 1,000 gallons for sewer service.
The benefit to customers of the new systems is that they can look forward to an end to erratic water pressure and, in a few cases, saying goodbye to the old privy.
Public sewerage also should reduce the threat of pollution to nearby Bear Branch from private septic waste discharged into ditches or streams.
The county government has been operating the water system for about two years, after former owner Viola Leister told county officials she could no longer maintain the community water system she and her late husband, Paul C. Leister, had operated since 1929.
A sewer system became a public health concern in conjunction with plans to install a new water system, said Charles L. Zeleski, director of environmental help for the Carroll County Health Department.
"We figured if the county took over and [customers] had dependable pressure, water use would increase, and then you'd have more failing systems," Mr. Zeleski said.
A Health Department survey in the fall of 1990 found 22 properties without adequate acreage to install a new septic system if one was needed, 15 where replacement would require pumping waste uphill and five where space to install a replacement system was questionable.
The department surveyors also found five overflowing septic systems. In addition, they found one that appeared in danger of overflowing, three properties using outhouses or having minimal indoor plumbing, 11 properties discharging waste into a nearby ditch or stream, six where the point of discharge was questionable and two where old hand-dug wells were being used as septic tanks.
Septic waste disposal systems in Pleasant Valley average 27 years, Mr. Zeleski said.
County officials hope to start construction on both new systems by summer. Meanwhile, the county has continued the $21 quarterly charge for current customers.
The county government has $717,700 in state grants to cover all but about $440,000 of the project's estimated $1.2 million cost.
The rest of the cost is expected to be made up through revenue bonds, a $315,000 loan from the Maryland Department of the Environment and $15,000 from the county enterprise fund.
The water system "is immensely inadequate," said Thomas J. Rio, chief of the county Bureau of Building Construction. "It doesn't produce enough water, it doesn't store enough water, and the pressure isn't there."
Mr. Rio said the capacities of the existing wells that supply the Pleasant Valley water system have not been tested.
He said the county staff doesn't want to test the wells by drawing them down to determine capacity, because that could leave customers without water.
Preliminary engineering reports indicate that the new water system will require additional wells and pumps and new mains.
The plan calls for the sewer mains to take raw sewage by gravity to a new treatment plant that will have the capacity to treat 15,000 gallons a day.
When the county government took over the water system, workers replaced Mr. and Mrs. Leister's hand-fed chlorination system with gas cylinders that automatically add chlorine to the well water.
Water for the community supply is stored in a large cistern atop a hill off High Street and flows by gravity to homes in the valley.
Wayne Lewns, chief of the county Bureau of Utilities, said a water plant operator checks the system daily.