WOODBINE - Trout and wetlands are among the obstacles to county plans for a reservoir aimed at providing an adequate water supply for South Carroll.
About 80 people turned out Wednesday at Mount Olive Methodist Church as county planners delivered an update on the Gillis Falls Reservoir, a 430-acre lake that would supply projected water needs for South Carroll at least through the year 2040.
But in the quest for permits, the county has met resistance from the Maryland Department of the Environment and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said Carroll planner Marlene Conaway.
Maryland officials are worried about disturbing Gillis Falls, which is designated by the state as a natural trout stream -- and 177 acres of wetlands that would be inundated, Conaway said.
State regulations prohibit building a reservoir on a natural trout stream. The county is asking for reclassification of the Gillis Falls.
But state environmental officials, in a climate of burgeoning conservation, are slow to grant such redesignations, Conaway said.
Also, under state law, the affected wetlands area would have to be re-created elsewhere. Growing concern about wetlands -- marshy areas that serve as natural filters to water entering the Chesapeake Bay -- leaves state officials reluctant to disturb the natural habitats.
However, Conaway told residents the county is confident agreement can be reached on the environmental issues.
"We are saying, 'We're building the reservoir,' " she said. "We are not saying, 'What if we don't build the reservoir?' " The state told the county to seek out water-supply options other than the reservoir. Alternatives that planners looked at include getting water from Baltimore City's Liberty Reservoir, from Washington and pumping ground water from North Carroll.
But county planners insist the reservoir is the best and most cost-effective means of supplying the 8 million gallons per day that will be required by South Carroll for at least the next 50 years.
At more than $28 million, the initial capital cost of building the reservoir is higher than some other options. But in the long run, the costs to maintain and operate the reservoir would be among the lowest, planners said.
Also, the reservoir, which planners hope is ready by the late 1990s, would be under control of Carroll government. The county would not at the mercy of service and price fluctuations of Baltimore and Washington.
"I don't want to be dependent on an organization like Baltimore City for our water," said Watersville Road resident Dale Chase.
The county has acquired 80 percent of the land needed for the reservoir.
Construction of a dam and other facilities for the reservoir would be financed with a bond issue, Conaway said.