Cecil County Grapples with Sanitary Sewer Overflows: What Residents Need to Know

Infrastructure© eyewave / Canva

ELKTON, MD — Residents of Cecil County were met with an unfortunate surprise on January 16, 2024, as the Department of Public Works’ Wastewater Division reported multiple sanitary sewer overflows. The incidents occurred during repairs to the Washington Street Sanitary Sewer Force Main, affecting several areas and resulting in significant wastewater leakage.

In North East, around the Washington Street Pump Station, approximately 115,000 gallons of wastewater overflowed from manhole #1335. Some of this effluent found its way into Little Northeast Creek, raising concerns about potential environmental damage and public health risks.

A similar situation unfolded near the Charlestown Crossing Pump Station, where about 10,500 gallons overflowed from manhole #21228. Some of this wastewater entered an unnamed tributary of the Northeast River, further exacerbating the situation.

A smaller yet still concerning incident took place in the vicinity of 346 Cather Avenue in Charlestown, where roughly 200 gallons overflowed from manhole #2083. This overflow also entered an unnamed tributary of the Northeast River.

These sanitary sewer overflows are more than just unpleasant; they have the potential to significantly impact both the environment and public health. Wastewater often contains harmful bacteria and other pollutants that can contaminate local waterways, harm wildlife, and pose a risk to people who come into contact with the polluted water.

Given these concerns, residents of Cecil County need to be aware of the situation and take any necessary precautions. Avoiding contact with the affected water bodies and monitoring any updates from local authorities are essential steps in ensuring personal safety.

These incidents underscore the importance of ongoing infrastructure maintenance and improvements. Aging sewer systems are often prone to failures and overflows, particularly during periods of heavy rain or, as was the case in Cecil County, during repair work. Investing in upgrades and regular maintenance can help prevent such incidents and protect local waterways and public health.

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In the wake of these overflows, the Wastewater Division is likely to face increased scrutiny as it works to address the situation and prevent future incidents. Residents who require additional information are encouraged to contact the Wastewater Division at (410) 996-6260 during regular business hours.

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