BARK HILL — Fred and Sarah Warner have journeyed weekly to a relative's nearby farm for more than two years to stock up on water, ever since the county Health Department advised them not to drink from their well.
But the days of scavenging for water appear numbered for the Warners and about 41 other families in the Bark Hill and Key View developments northeast of Union Bridge. Their homes will be connected to a community water system projected for completion by November 1992.
The state Board of Public Works approved Wednesday a $500,000 grant to construct the water system to serve up to 50 residences, a church and Francis Scott Key High, in an area where contamination has been detected in several residential wells.
The county will contribute $137,509 to the water supply and treatment system, which will draw from an existing well near the high school.
News of the state grant came as a relief to several residents of the rural community, who have been uncertain about the extent of contamination and have lived for several years with inconveniences.
"We're all for a community water system," said Sarah Warner, a Star Court resident. "It will be alot safer, and there will be a lot less worry."
It is projected that residents hooked up to the system will pay $140 to $180 annually in water charges. Warner said she doesn't mind the cost.
"It will benefit a lot of people and improve our property," she said.
Ruth Mellema, a Star Court neighbor who has purchased drinking water from stores for three years, agreed.
"It's one of the things everyone has to do together," she said.
Residents also will have to pay to cap their wells, as required by the Health Department to help restrictthe spread of contaminants.
At a public hearing last fall, some residents objected to the costs, saying contamination had been documented in only a handful of wells. They blamed county officials for poorplanning.
The planned water service area is between Bark Hill andMiddleburg roads on the west side of Raywell Avenue.
County Assistant Planning Director K. Marlene Conaway said it is fortunate that state assistance is available for small water systems.
"For a smallcommunity like Bark Hill, the cost would be out of sight to pay it off itself," she said. "There are a number of pockets in Carroll County with water problems that can't afford to do it themselves."
It will cost the county an estimated $10,600 to $13,600 annually to operate and maintain the system. Costs will be borne through utility charges.
Leaking private septic systems, which are about 20 years old, in the Bark Hill and Key View area have caused well contamination. Planners say the potential for septic problems on any lot in the area is high because of soil conditions and the small lots.
Some residents, including Warner and Mellema, suspect that the abandoned Bark Hill Landfill also could be contributing to the pollution. Contaminants have been detected leaking from the landfill, which is being cleaned up and capped.
"The Health Department has given us the runaround,"said Warner. "They've never told us where the contaminants are coming from."
The Health Department has advised providing a clean watersupply to the area immediately, and subsequently resolving the ground water contamination problems. By sealing the wells, more space willbe available on the small lots for replacement septic systems.