For years, Harford County officials and Cardiff and Whiteford residents have made efforts to get a sewage treatment plant built because of failing septic systems in the area.
Now, at last, it looks as if a solution may be near.
Harford officials are waiting to learn if $3.4 million in federal funds will be available to help pay for connections to a planned sewage treatment plant in Delta, Pa., for more than 200 property owners in Cardiff and Whiteford.
Whether Harford residents are able to connect to the Delta plant depends on the Farmers Home Administration approving a combination loan and grant to help pay for the system, said Jacqueline Ludwig, head of the water and sewer department for Harford.
A 1991 survey of 218 properties in the area by the Harford health department found that 115 had septic systems that were "failing, suspect or inadequate."
Mrs. Ludwig said that in the 1960s and early 1970s federal money was available to build sewage treatment plants, but Harford officials could not reach an agreement with Delta residents to develop a system together.
In the late 1980s, however, Pennsylvania officials ordered Delta to build a sewage treatment facility because of the health threat from failing septic systems, Mrs. Ludwig said.
With the federal funds, the system would cost the 207 affected property owners in Cardiff and Whiteford about $1,000 annually -- $597 each per year for 30 years to help pay off the loan and about $440 a year in operating charges -- plus whatever a plumber would charge to connect a resident's home to the system, Mrs. Ludwig said.
Installation of the system would open the door to some future growth in Cardiff and Whiteford, said Councilman Barry Glassman, who represents the area. "I think it goes without saying that there is acreage in that area right now that can't be built on because of the poor soils."
If more homes are built in the area, they would also have to be connected to the sewage system -- a move that could lessen the cost to others because there would be more homeowners contributing.
Without the federal money, residents would have to pay $2,100 per year to be on the system, plus the $440 annual operating expenses, Mrs. Ludwig said. That price might be too high for some residents.
After determining what the costs will be, Harford officials will ask property owners if they would like to hook up. If not all agree to connect, the County Council will decide the issue.
Officials expect an answer on the grant and loan from the federal government by October.
Delta's sewer plant already has been designed and funded, according to Bill Ailes Jr., director of public works for Delta. Plans call for a $2.4 million plant that can treat up to 120,000 gallons of sewage per day.
Mr. Ailes said Delta officials are awaiting Harford's decision before putting the construction contract out to bid. He said work must begin by February.