After a three-year fight, it appears that the black community of Woodland Village in Charles County, Md., will see its aged water system -- virtually unserviced since the town was built as segregated housing for black World War II Navy employes -- brought up to state standards.
In an agreement signed Oct. 31, the county assumed ownership of the Woodland water system; it will use a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development grant of $298,400 to repair and upgrade the waterworks and install a new well and pump house.
The system now pumps only 125 gallons a minute. "So, if two people are washing clothes and another two are taking showers, we obviously have a problem," said Francis J. Simmons, head of the Woodland Village Civic Association.
Pleased as residents are about the pending water improvements, they still are waiting for some improvements to the town's sewer lines.
"Right now we pay $130 a year per household to Indian Head, but they don't maintain the lines. We have sewage running to the top of the ground and down the storm drains because the three sewage lines we have are so badly cracked," said Simmons.
Indian Head's chief administrative officer, Eleanor Fuller, said she was not aware of any complaints about raw sewage in the neighboring black village and that last summer the "EPA told us the project had been put on the back burner, and to hold off from getting the designs done."
But the sewer problem is now being actively addressed. Fuller said she has authorized the Thomas B. Bourne Engineering Co. in Hyattsville to go ahead with the sewer system design after getting the green light from the EPA.