The town of New Windsor faces penalties from the Maryland Department of the Environment for violating water pollution and control laws, Mayor Jack A. Gullo Jr. said last night during the monthly town council meeting.
Mr. Gullo read a letter from the state agency that said the town's wastewater treatment plant discharged water with a high pH content in February and March.
Administrative penalties for the violation could be as high as $1,000 for each day the polluted water was discharged, but the department proposed that a payment of $2,550 be made to the Clean Water Fund to settle the violations, Mr. Gullo read.
Fred Haifley, the sewer plant operator, said the pH levels were so high those months because he turned off the sewer lagoon aerators, which help decompose solid waste by adding oxygen to the water, to save energy.
"I reported these violations myself. They were not caught or measured by the state," Mr. Haifley explained. "Since the aerators had not been used the first 30 years the plant had been in operation, I thought I could save energy by cutting them."
But the elimination of the aerator operation caused the alkaline levels in the water to increase, Mr. Haifley said.
He said that after he ran the aerators 24 hours a day for a month, the system began functioning at acceptable levels.
In other business, former Mayor Earl Brewer wondered why the town allows developers to select the company inspecting their work.
Mr. Brewer said the town should be responsible for hiring an inspector it trusts while the developer pays for the inspections.
The mayor and council agreed and said they would try to resume selecting the inspectors.
The council also discussed purchasing a secondhand truck for the weekend work crew. Councilman Kenny Grimes said he had found a suitable truck for about $15,000.
The town would have to put the purchase out for bid under its code.