July 1, 2022

Art & Lifestyle:

Misconceptions About MetCom: Facts 1 & 2

MetCom waterline
Posted for St. Mary’s County Metropolitan Commission

Don’t believe everything you hear—–especially as it relates to the St. Mary’s County Metropolitan Commission. YOUR local public water and sewer utility, MetCom, is often the subject of ambiguity and misunderstanding. Following are a few of the more widely-accepted public misconceptions about MetCom, followed by the facts of the matter.

            Misconception:    MetCom is part of the St. Mary’s County government or it is privately owned.

            Fact:    MetCom is neither part of the county governmental structure nor privately owned. MetCom is a quasi-governmental, not-for-profit entity. Despite its name, MetCom is not part of the St. Mary’s County government and receives no County tax dollars. MetCom is a stand-alone public utility, supported entirely by the revenues generated from the collection of user fees which are assessed to only those properties which are served by public water and/or sewer service.

            Misconception:    MetCom is newly created or conducts its business differently in recent years.

            Fact:    MetCom was created by State law in 1957 and has conducted its business under essentially the same enabling legislation since 1964. Following the arrival of the Patuxent Naval Air Station in 1940, St. Mary’s County experienced a period of rapid growth with infrastructure demands immediately pressing on an area not fully prepared for such growth. At the time, some populated areas were served by small private water and sewer systems, but there was no single public entity to provide and manage a public water and wastewater utility, because the need had not previously existed. While the Navy initially accepted some off-base sewage for treatment, it ultimately reached a point where it no longer accepted off-base flows. With the growth of the Base, the community outside of the gate was rapidly expanding and the increased development generated increased need for a public water supply and wastewater conveyance and treatment systems.

The law which created the “St. Mary’s County Metropolitan Commission,” House Bill 852, was approved by the Maryland General Assembly in 1957, having been introduced by then Delegate, later Senator, J. Frank Raley. Delegate Raley recognized that if St. Mary’s County was to continue to grow and develop in a sustainable direction and if the Patuxent River Naval Air Station were to be supported, there was critical need for public involvement in the provision of adequate public water and sewer services. The Metropolitan Commission was established and remains today as a not-for-profit, body politic and corporate, separate from County government with the intention that the provision and management of the public water and sewer utility be distinguished from the elected officials which operate the County government.

MetCom continues to serve the public water and sewerage needs of the citizens of St. Mary’s County today, under nearly the same State legislation as was adopted by the Maryland General Assembly in 1957, which despite being State law, is codified as Section 113 of the Code of St. Mary’s County.

There are more Facts this week in The Leader.

Inaccurate, or partial, information about any matter can be confusing and misleading. Because we have touched upon only a very few of the public misconceptions about MetCom, we invite your inquiries and hope that you will reach out to MetCom Commissioners and staff with your questions and concerns. You can reach us on the web at www.metcom.org. Look for our new and improved website set to launch in early November. You may also contact us by telephone at 301.737.7400. We are part of your community and we are here to serve you.

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