- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 8, 2002

MIDDLETOWN, Md. Wastewater irrigation is coming closer to home.
A state law that took effect Oct. 1 allows treated municipal wastewater to be sprayed within 25 feet of residential property lines, compared with 500 feet previously but there's a catch.
The effluent also must be cleaner than before. Unless it meets more stringent requirements for fecal coliform and other contaminants, the old buffers apply.
The changes are good news for Hollow Creek Golf Club, which aims to supplement its irrigation pond with reclaimed water from Middletown's wastewater-treatment plant. The effluent, as much as 170,000 gallons daily, is now pumped into the nearby stream for which the golf course is named, said Andrew Bowen, the town administrator.
Hollow Creek groundskeepers craved that moisture this past summer as the course, which opened in June, baked in the heat and drought.
"When you open up, you hope to get that honeymoon effect," said General Manager Joe Burden. "When we saw the condition of the course deteriorating, we just shook our heads and tried to weather the storm."
He said the club canceled its advertising plans and spent money instead on trucked-in water, hand watering and chemicals that helped the soil retain moisture. Business was 75 percent to 80 percent less than anticipated.
"We didn't want people to come out and play the golf course and have a bad experience. We didn't want them to see the course in the condition it was in," Mr. Burden said.
Mr. Bowen said the town has met with the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) about getting its effluent certified as clean enough to meet the new requirements. The tougher standards apply because the golf course is tucked into a subdivision of 400 planned homes.
The effluent is now almost drinking water quality, Mr. Bowen said.
Under the new rules, treated wastewater containing less than three fecal coliform colonies per 100 milliliters may be used for irrigation within 25 feet of homes and public roads, 50 feet of schools and playgrounds, and 100 feet of potable wells and surface water intakes.
Under the older rules, wastewater with no more than 200 fecal coliform colonies per 100 milliliters may be used within 500 feet of homes and schools, and 200 feet of public roads and potable water sources.
No fecal coliform bacteria are allowed in public drinking water.
Twenty-nine permits have been issued since the mid-1980s for wastewater irrigation under the old rules, mostly on the Eastern Shore, said Ching Tien, chief of the MDE groundwater permit division.
State Sen. J. Lowell Stoltzfus, Somerset-Wicomico-Worcester Republican, said he sponsored the legislation to encourage greater use of a valuable resource.
"My sense, serving on the Chesapeake Bay Commission, is that we need to stop pumping out wastewater into the waters that flow into the Chesapeake Bay. It would be far better to put it out and grow crops or grow green things on it," he said.


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