The town of Indian Head has received a $1.8 million federal grant to upgrade the World War II-era sewer and water system in a neighborhood where residents have sought such improvements for more than 30 years.

The money allows Indian Head to move forward on plans to replace pipes, meters and other water and sewer infrastructure for the Woodland Village neighborhood, Mayor Warren Bowie said. The town also has a $350,000 commitment from Charles County government and needs about $1 million from the state to implement the new system.

"This is just the beginning," Bowie said this week.

Sewer and water problems in Woodland Village date to the 1980s, when the water system installed by the federal government in the 1940s began to show symptoms of aging. It was not unusual for water pipes to burst, flooding the streets and residents' back yards.

The neighborhood was built by the federal government as housing for staff at the nearby Naval Surface Warfare Center, but the government did not maintain the system after the housing was turned over to private owners. Federal funding to fix the old water system was not forthcoming, Bowie said.

In 1986, the neighborhood was annexed by Indian Head and the town tried to help residents with the sewer and water problems, but was never able to come up with the state funding needed to complete an upgrade, Bowie said.

Last year, residents wrote U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) with their concerns. She and Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) earmarked the money for Indian Head in the Omnibus Appropriations Bill passed by Congress on Feb. 13.