Press Release

ANNAPOLIS, MD (October 24, 2001) – Strengthening the Glendening- Townsend Administration’s commitment to revitalizing and improving Maryland’s existing neighborhoods, Lt. Governor Kathleen Kennedy Townsend today announced Board of Public Works approval of a $104,668 grant to Allegany County. This funding will allow the County to continue with the design and construction of sewer system improvement in the city of Cumberland.

“There is a sense of urgency when it comes to public health and we are taking immediate and aggressive steps to ensure that every Marylander’s drinking water is safe from the hazards of overflow and contamination,” said Governor Parris N. Glendening. “This funding will allow the city of Cumberland to continue to study and develop a plan to either eliminate or make improvements to protect water quality and public health.”

Cumberland’s existing sewer system is a combined system that discharges untreated low strength sewage into Wills Creek, the Potomac River and Evitts Creek during high flow periods, especially in response to heavy precipitation. Under an Administrative Order from the Maryland Department of the Environment, Allegany County began to develop a plan to effectively deal with the overflows while protecting and improving public health.

This project, a prerequisite to the rewatering of the C & O Canal, includes the design and construction of improvements to the existing Cumberland sewer system to eliminate 17 overflow points.
City officials realize that eliminating the overflows will improve water quality, aquatic life and the health of the collection system’s 50,000 customers.

“This Maryland Department of the Environment grant, in combination with other MDE, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and city funds will allow Cumberland to move forward with its multi-phased reduction of its combined sewer overflows,” said John J. DiFonzo, the city’s director of engineering. “Cumberland, like many other very old cities, was developed with combined storm and sanitary sewers. Under storm conditions, the overflows associated with these combined sewers add pollutants to the Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay. Reducing combined sewer overflows is an enormous project that is not affordable for local citizens without state and federal aid. This project is also important to allow for the rewatering of the C & O Canal project in Cumberland to proceed on schedule.”

The total cost of the project is $29.8 million, of which $2 million is being funded by through a state loan and $14.8 million in grants from EPA. Today’s grant comes from MDE’s Water Quality Infrastructure Program. Construction is expected to begin in February 2002 and be complete by March 2002.