Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Sharing Constituent Concerns Over Sewage Spills

Whether the incidents are called “Sanitary Sewer Overflows,” “waste water spills” or “sewage accidents,” last week’s double environmental hit to the Wicomico River from the Salisbury Waste water Treatment Plant (WWTP) has all of us concerned. Many constituents have contacted each of us.

To the best of our knowledge, reports from the city to the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) have been filed on time and the MDE is due to issue some position statement on the incidents soon. Just to assist the public in staying informed about the issue, we are publishing the emails we’ve sent to City Administrator John Pick (cc’d to others in the city government) with our questions about these recent spills and safeguards at the WWTP in general.

June 17, 2008 (after the first spill) --


This sounds like a similar problem to the last spillage problem that happened. Is it? When will we know the root cause of the problem?

What are the costs associated with the first response, clean up and any repair for both this one and the last one? By contract, who is accountable for the problem and the associated costs, for this and the last spill? What safeguards are being put into place to lower the risk of this happening again?

Thank you,

Terry E. Cohen, Member
Salisbury City Council

June 19, 2008 (after the second spill) --

John -

My constituents are infuriated by yet another spill. They are raising many
questions about how this could happen, who is going to take responsibility,
and what taking responsibility really means. Please provide me with copies
of whatever plans were in place to safeguard against/control spillage during
construction. I would also like to know to what degree those plans were
followed and any additional details that can be provided.

Thank you.


June 24, 2008 (follow up) –


I would like copies of the reports on last week's spills that the city provided to MDE, as well as any communications from MDE concerning the spills.

Will this information answer the questions I raised last week after the first spill (besides the one you answered stating that these incidents were "unique" events in terms of root cause)?

Citizens are very anxious for answers, as I know you can appreciate, especially concerning what steps are being taken to prevent additional incidents and about accountability.

What is the water sampling schedule and is it showing levels of improvement to indicate an approximate time period when the water activity bans will be lifted?

Thank you in advance for your follow up.


Terry E. Cohen, Member
Salisbury City Council