When the Maryland Department of the Environment learned about significant groundwater contamination in the Morris Mill area near Salisbury, the agency launched an aggressive response.
At the top of the to-do list: ensure that any household that needed a temporary alternative supply of drinking water got one.
Meanwhile, investigate groundwater conditions and, importantly, confirm that the contamination was not ongoing.
And now, completion of the third and final step—helping to find a long-term solution to the problem – is within sight.
MDE joined the United States Department of Agriculture today to announce funding to help extend public water to the Morris Mill community. MDE is providing a $3 million grant to help pay for the project.
“Water is our most essential natural resource. The Maryland Department of the Environment is committed to protecting that resource and providing all Marylanders with a safe and clean drinking water supply,” said MDE Secretary Robert M. Summers. “We have made it clear from the time that we learned of the groundwater contamination in the Morris Mill community that we will do everything we can to see that the water needs of the residents are addressed.”
The Wicomico County Health Department, MDE, and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have combined efforts to solve the groundwater contamination problem, first identified in the summer of 2012.
The presence of the solvent Trichloroethylene (TCE) in the groundwater affected the drinking water source for approximately 270 households in the Morris Mill community, which is currently served by private wells.
In conjunction with EPA, MDE arranged for 40 homeowners whose wells contain TCE above acceptable levels to receive carbon filtration systems. Another 18 homes receive bottled water deliveries due to the lower, but still elevated, contamination levels in their well water.
An investigation by MDE and EPA found that the likely cause of the contamination was historical in nature and that there is no reason to believe that there is an ongoing source of contamination in the area.
With temporary measures in place, attention turned to finding a long-term solution. Plans calls for an $8 million project to allow area residents to obtain water from the City of Fruitland’s public water system. In addition to the $3 million grant from MDE, $3 million in grants and $2 million in low-interest loans from USDA Rural Development will help pay for the project.