Water Concerns Raised Over New Development

March 11, 1992|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Staff writer

MOUNT AIRY — Residents concerned about their water supplies when a golf course and housing development are built at Ridge and Gillis Falls roads airedtheir worries last night.

About 40 people attended a public information hearing sponsored by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources at Calvary United Methodist Church on Main Street.

Kettler Brothers Inc. of Gaithersburg, Montgomery County, has plans to build an 18-hole golf course and 147-home development called Challedon two miles northeast of the town.

The company has applied for a state permit to use an annual average of 60,000 gallons of ground water a day from three wells to irrigate the golf course and for use in the clubhouse.

The purpose of the hearing was to allow Kettler Brothers to present an analysis of the impact of pumping the water and to answer residents' questions, said Gary T. Setzer, director of the Water and Mineral Management Program in the Water Resources Administration.

Residents listened to a technical presentation by Joel Herman, a hydrogeologist from R. E. Wright Associates who was hired by Kettler Brothers to study the water supply.

The residents said they were concerned their wells will go dry, wreaking havoc with theirdaily lives and hurting their property values.

"You hear war stories about wells going dry," said James Grazier Sr., whose 16 acres are adjacent to Challedon.

Les Ratliff asked why the developer couldn't wait to draw water until after the Gillis Falls Reservoir is built and more water will be available.

The county does not have finalapproval to build the reservoir, which is expected to serve communities in the South Carroll area.

Herman said he drilled test wells and monitored them in August and September -- during a drought -- and found plenty of good quality water.

"You could drink it," he added.

Nearby residents' wells would not be affected by the golf course's water use, Herman said. The zone of influence for Challedon's wells would be entirely on Kettler Brothers' property, he said.

Residents said they were worried the golf course would use more than its fair share of water during a drought year.

Terry Clark, chief of theWater Rights Division, said domestic and municipal users have first priority for water during a drought. Agricultural users have second priority, and others -- including golf courses -- are third, he said.

The county Planning Commission approved preliminary plans for the golf course in July 1990. The course will wind around the homes, which will be clustered on 350 acres of the 618-acre site, county recordsshow.

The county also gave preliminary approval for the homes, but will allow only 25 homes to be built every three months, records show.

Challedon will have private water and sewer lines.

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