Lakeside has been in the works for a while. In 2019 a plan to build 2,501 residences in one phase was divided into 4 phases; and in 2020 the Talbot County Council found Lakeside’s plan consistent with both its Comprehensive Plan and Comprehensive Water and Sewer Plan. Resolution 281 passed 4-1. The Planning Commission had voted 3-2 in favor, but the Board of Public Works voted 5-0 against, possibly due to concerns for the development’s size and Trappe’s wastewater treatment capabilities.
The approval of Maryland Department of the Environment’s Permit 19-DP-3460 implies a reasonable expectation that the pollution of Miles Creek and downstream waters will not occur, but concerns remain. Lakeside plans to build 2,501 homes, initially connecting 89 to Trappe’s wastewater treatment plant when La Trappe Creek is already seriously polluted, and then spraying over 500,000 gallons of wastewater per day, an amount twice that of average rainfall, onto to a field alongside Miles Creek.
Section 9-505 of the Environmental Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland defines the County’s role in the planning and operation of wastewater treatment systems: “Each county shall designate an appropriate agency of the county to be responsible for creating a working plan.” Counties are responsible for overseeing the planning, financing, construction, and operation of sewerage systems, and “shall involve the public in these matters.”
Talbot County is responsible for overseeing this plan; but Resolution 281 put Lakeside’s developer and the town of Trappe in charge, and the public waited months for a hearing to address concerns.
MDE conducted a public hearing on October 28. We were reminded that “local government approves the land” for wastewater treatment facilities, but in this case soil is a particularly relevant issue, and soil type, permeability and depth have not been determined. Seasonal issues must also be considered. A spray field shuts down in freezing weather, and the grass selected to soak up nutrients becomes dormant in winter. Will Trappe’s plant be ready and able?
An independent study has also suggested that in some cases outdated data has been used in permit calculations. This permit is several pages long and this is a complex issue, but we might simply wonder why, in a development of over 800 hundred acres, a wastewater spray field would be located alongside a waterway when pollution is a concern.
Lakeside is a development of unprecedented size for our County and the Eastern Shore. Concerned citizens filled the Community Center’s curling rink auditorium to attend and participate in MDE’s public hearing. A Talbot County Council hearing will be scheduled, possibly following MDE’s decision regarding Permit 19-DE-3460.
Comments concerning the approval of this permit may be submitted to MDE until November 5 via email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Written submissions may be mailed to:
Maryland Department of the Environment
Attn: Mary Dela Onyemaechi, Chief, Groundwater Discharge Permits
1800 Washington Blvd., Suite 455
Baltimore, MD 21230-1708