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South Kent Island Sewer Line

QACA Files PIA on Health, Financial Records relating to South Kent Island Pipeline

October 5, 2015

Centreville - The Queen Anne’s Conservation Association (QACA) has made Public Information Act (PIA) filings with the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and nine Queen Anne’s County boards, departments, and commissions.  The filings ask that QACA be allowed to inspect 15 categories of government records principally relating to claims by local officials that septic systems on Southern Kent Island pose a threat to the health of residents there.  Also being sought are records relating to financial problems of the KNSG sewer plant in Stevensville.

Jay Falstad, QACA Executive Director, explained that the events leading up to the PIA filings began with a memorandum sent by the QAC Health Officer, Joseph A. Ciotola, Jr., to the County Commissioners last February, five days before they voted on whether to proceed with engineering studies for the proposed Southern Kent Island sewer line   The memorandum, included as Exhibit 1 in the PIA filings, warned of a “growing risk profile” and “public health threat” and referred to 37 communicable disease cases in the Stevensville zip code (21666) that “could have been caused by septic/sewage disposal”. 

Falstad continued: “Subsequently, inquiries and analysis by interested citizens revealed that the incidence of disease in the Stevensville 21666 zip code, announced with alarm in the Ciotola memorandum, was actually lower than in the County as a whole.  In the Centreville zip code, for example, the disease incidence was much higher, some 80% higher, than in the Stevensville zip. 

“Further, the County is now awash in rumors that what is really driving the sewer line proposal is not the claimed disease threat, but rather the desire of some officials to generate more user fees to help pay down the debt incurred in the 2007 over-expansion of the KNSG sewer plant.   So in our PIA filings, we’ve asked to inspect the records on this subject as well.

“The issues surrounding the Southern Kent Island sewer proposal are too important not to let the sunshine in and let the citizens know all the pertinent facts.  The proposed sewer line takes the County down a path toward spending many tens of millions of taxpayer dollars, imposing hardships on many residents, disrupting many lives, and opening up to massive residential development one of the last places in Maryland where that ought to occur.

“Is there any reality at all to this claimed public health threat?  If there is, does it rise to a level that justifies the costs that the sewer project will impose on County citizens?  If the problem is in fact not public health, but rather the debt on the KNSG plant, what other options have been considered to solve that problem?  The citizens generally, and especially the Kent Island residents who will be most impacted, deserve answers to these unanswered questions.”

The QACA PIA requests were filed with the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the following QAC boards, departments, and commissions: Department of Health, Board of County Commissioners, Administrator’s Office, Office of Budget and Finance, Department of Public Works, Economic Development Department, Economic Development Commission, Department of Parks & Public Landings, and Parks and Recreation Advisory Board.   

The PIA filings ask for production of the records sought within thirty days.  As the filings state, QACA will provide broad public dissemination of the information sought, including dissemination to citizen leaders on Kent Island who are most active in analyzing and publicly discussing the sewer service proposal.

County Response to Initial QACA PIA of Communicable Disease Cases in Zip Code 2166

March 10, 2015

On February 10, 2015, Queen Anne’s Conservation Association (QACA) submitted a Public Information Act request to the County Health Officer immediately after a draft of a letter to South Kent Island residents and the County Board of Commissioners was discussed at the February 10, 2015 Board of Commissioners meeting.   The PIA asked for details on the illnesses discussed in the letter.   The response to that PIA is contained in the table below.     Queen Anne’s Conservation Association will be following up with the QACHD to ask for clarification on locations for these 37 cases to see how strong the linkage is between the 37 cases and what they claim to be the septic condition of South Kent Island now posing a substantial health risk of disease transmission.

List of 37 Illnesses from 2-10-15 QACA PIA to QAC Department of Health

News and Statements about the South Kent Island Sewer Project