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  • Ryen Sakyi

Sewage Leak in Nearby Waters

Ryen Sakyi

The University experienced a snow day on Feb. 13. While students were excited about the off or remote day, it caused problems off campus. Due to the storm, ecosystems such as the surrounding creeks and the Monocacy river were impacted by the runoff. As the snow melted, it entered the drains, affecting water ways in and around the campus.

This issue was originally brought to the Mountain Echo’s attention by an article posted by the Frederick News Post.  It discussed the University’s sewage and warned people to stay away from the water for a two-week period. With this, the University was also aware that the membranes of the filtration system were becoming less useful.

Physical Plant department was unable to process the amount of water at the same rate in which it came in. Vice President of Business and Finance William Davies stated, “It’s not raw sewage, it is water that is mixed with the sewage together. This is all screened, UV treated and discharged.”

On Feb. 25. Frederick Health Department sent out a document explaining the matter of the Mount’s sewage overflow, which affected multiple bodies of water surrounding the campus, including Saint Mary Run and Tom’s Creek leading to the Monocacy River. These creeks are outside of Emmitsburg, but impacted Frederick and smaller communities. The overflow, which was caused by heavy rain and melted snow in the area, lasted until Feb. 16., and has stopped since then. 


Davies added, “It is not unusual for larger sewage systems to have this situation.” He also discussed the University’s efforts in preventing this from happening again.

“We do a smoke test that tells us where some of the ground water is infiltrating into the sewage system. We have an excavator that has engaged in trying to reduce the number of infiltrations,” he remarked.

FHD advised students to stay away from the waters of Saint Mary Run, Toms Creek and the Monocacy River. To solve the situation, FHD poured 7,000 gallons of clean water into the waterways. This method is used to flush out the sewage water. It also advised people to stay away from the waterways until March 1.

So, while people waited for the water to clear up and everything to return to normal, here are some instructions that the FHD gave. It said that swimming with full-body immersion in this water should be avoided. If someone were to come in contact, they need to make sure to wash thoroughly with soapy warm water, especially before eating.

Pets should also have be kept away from the water. While people should not have been submerged in the water, boating and fishing was still permitted.

Mount St. Mary’s University works with the Maryland Department of the Environment for regulatory reporting of issues. Along with MDE, the University is working with the Department of Agriculture to purchase new filters. Over the past two to three months, the Mount has also spent $40,000 on new filtration systems.

Staff Photographer


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