Water protection effort planned Signs to be posted at sites in Carroll

August 24, 1993|By Greg Tasker | Greg Tasker,Staff Writer

Outdoor signs depicting water dripping from a faucet to a glass will be popping up around Carroll County soon to remind residents to protect sources of public drinking water.

The signs, which will be posted at 78 sites around the county this fall, are part of an effort to manage the county's fragile water resources, said Catherine Rappe, chief of Carroll's Bureau of Water Resource Management.

The signs are believed to be the first of their kind in Maryland and along the Eastern seaboard. Carroll received a $15,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency through the state Department of the Environment to buy the signs and print brochures as part of a public education program for water resource management, Ms. Rappe said.

The brochures and signs are the most visible aspects of Carroll's efforts to protect public drinking water sources.

For the past five years, county officials have been developing a water resources management ordinance that, among other things, will regulate commercial and industrial land uses and activities, such as the use of chemicals, Ms. Rappe said.

"We want everyone to have a better understanding of where water comes from," she said. "These things are all very important to provide good water supply at reasonable costs. Everyone has a responsibility to protect our water supply."

The proposed ordinance doesn't address agricultural uses. Ms. Rappe said agricultural concerns have been addressed through successful volunteer programs. "We're working with ag agencies," she said.

A public information meeting on drinking water and well-head protection is scheduled at 7:30 p.m. today at the North Carroll Public Library. A second meeting will be held in Mount Airy in September.

"Our approach is more than regulatory," Ms. Rappe said of the public information meeting. "There are aspects that have to do with habit, how we dispose of things and how we manage our own land. Those are things we would like to address at the meeting and help people understand where water comes from.

"A lot of people just turn on the tap and the water is there," she added. "It's clean but they don't have a clue about where it comes from. Management is real important. What people put on land affects the water they drink, especially if it comes from ground water."

Tonight's hearing will not address the proposed ordinance. Public hearings on the water resource management ordinance will be held later this year or next, Ms. Rappe said.

County officials plan to review a draft of the ordinance, still in the development stages, with town and state officials this fall.

The commissioners are expected to adopt the ordinance some time later, she said.

This year, county Economic Development Commission members raised concerns that the proposed ordinance was too strict and could harm efforts to bring businesses to Carroll. If the county becomes too restrictive, commission members argued, industry will go to West Virginia or Pennsylvania or elsewhere.

Ms. Rappe said county officials are addressing those concerns.

As part of water resource management, county officials have met with town representatives to identify public well areas that need to be protected from encroaching development.

"Most of these wells are outside corporate limits," she said, adding that county and town officials "need to try to preserve some of these now before there are problems."

She said county and town officials can protect these sites by requiring buffers or designating the sites as open space areas.

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