Charles Sewage Overflows

Charles County's Department of Utilities has reported two sewage overflows in the past 10 days.

In the most recent incident, about 15,000 gallons of raw, untreated wastewater overflowed Sunday morning from a sewer line near the old lagoon behind the Briarwood subdivision near Sandalwood Drive, the utilities and health departments said. The Waldorf neighborhood is near the Mattawoman Creek boundary between Charles and Prince George's counties.

The overflow was caused by a piece of equipment that fell off the wall of a manhole and blocked the downstream sewer line, the utilities department said. The obstruction was compounded by an accumulation of grease and rags.

On Monday, workers removed the obstruction and jet-cleaned the sewer lines to remove the grease and rags.

The raw wastewater was contained in a low area near the manhole, and none of it escaped into Mattawoman Creek, the department said. The material was pumped back into the sewer system.

Health department officials said the overflow posed no threat to the environment, public health or drinking water. Signs were posted warning residents to avoid contact with the area, and lime was applied to the affected area to control any bacteria or odors.

The other -- and much larger -- sewage overflow occurred early on Sept. 28. A mechanical failure at a check valve vault resulted in the release of an estimated 170,000 gallons of untreated wastewater into a tributary of the Port Tobacco River.

Signs were posted along the affected area advising residents to avoid direct contact with the water.

Identity Theft Warning

The Charles County Sheriff's Office is warning about a new identity theft scheme in which people posing as officers or court employees call residents to obtain personal information.

The schemers tell the victim that a bench warrant has been issued for the victim's arrest for failing to appear for jury duty.

Generally, the victim is shocked and replies that no jury duty notification was received. Then the schemers reassure the victim that it is possible that there is some mistake. They tell the victim that the issue can be resolved over the phone, and they ask for the victim's full name, address, date of birth and Social Security number. Some of the schemers have also obtained checking and savings account information.

The sheriff's office said courts relay information about jury duty through the mail, not over the telephone. If a warrant is issued for someone who fails to appear for jury duty, the sheriff's office will not call that person to inform him or her of the warrant.

There have been no reports of the scheme occurring in Charles County, but the sheriff's office asked residents to report any telephone call that resembles the scheme by calling the sheriff's office at 301-932-2222 in La Plata, 301-743-2222 in Indian Head or 301-932-7777 in Waldorf. Authorities said anyone receiving such a call should be sure to retain any caller identification information recorded on telephone equipment.

Water Advisory in Effect

A recent Charles County Health Department advisory warning people to avoid contact with streams in a 15-square-mile area between White Plains and La Plata remains in effect.

County Health Officer Chinnadurai Devadason said the results of water testing conducted last month indicate that contamination is still present from elevated levels of enterococcus bacteria, which may cause illness.

The area runs west from the intersection of Route 6 and U.S. Route 301 in La Plata to Hoghole Run, north to Route 227 in Pomfret, east to the intersection of Routes 227 and 301 at Willetts Crossing, then south to Route 6.

Water sampling points were in Hoghole Run, Port Tobacco Creek, Jennie Run, Wills Branch and feeder streams in these areas.

St. Mary's Cat Had Rabies

Another animal tested positive for rabies in St. Mary's County, the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene confirmed last week.

A cat, without provocation, attacked two people in the Wildewood community in California, according to the St. Mary's Health Department. This is the first confirmed local case this year of rabies occurring in a domesticated animal.

As of last week, St. Mary's County has had 11 animals test positive for rabies this year: four raccoons, four foxes, two skunks and a cat.

Three human exposures by direct contact with rabid animals have been reported. Public health officials said rabies activity in the Wildewood area near California has been noteworthy this year.