Work on the first part of a four-year construction project that will mean cleaner drinking water and stronger water pressure for Brooklyn Park residents could begin this summer, a county spokesman said.
The $8 million project will repair about 23 miles of water lines owned by Baltimore.
The 60-year-old lines, which extend along both sides of Ritchie Highway from the city line south to Walton Avenue, serve about 3,100 Brooklyn Park households and businesses.
Anne Arundel installed the pipes in 1929 but deeded the system to the city to maintain and operate. Brooklyn Park residents and businesses have paid water fees to the city since then. That will soon change as the county moves to take back the system it is paying to repair.
The project was prompted by the 1994 death of Gaynelle LeMaster, 73, in a house fire. Firefighters battling the blaze in the 100 block of W. Seventh Ave. could not get enough water from a nearby hydrant.
Each hydrant should supply 1,000 gallons a minute, but tests of 13 hydrants in the Brooklyn Park area by the Baltimore Department of Utilities found flows ranging from 93 gallons a minute on Seventh Avenue and Marshall Road to 950 gallons a minute at Southerly Road and Ballman Avenue.
Firefighters rely on hydrants on Ritchie Highway.
City lawyers in Baltimore expect to finish reviewing papers concerning transferring the system to the county by summer, said Kurt Kocher, a spokesman for the city Department of Public Works.
"If everything goes well and we get the Baltimore City approvals, [the first phase of the project] could begin this summer," said John A. Morris, Anne Arundel County spokesman.
Meanwhile, county architects are designing the first phase of the project, Morris said.
The first step, installing new fire hydrants and replacing some of the major lines with new pipes, could take two years and cost as much as $1.3 million.
The rest of the major pipes will be cleaned and coated with concrete to guard against rust and mineral deposits that can restrict water flow.
The second phase of the project includes cleaning and replacing larger pipes that connect water mains to the pipes that run into residents' homes.
Rates will rise
The county will pay for the repairs out of the residents' quarterly payments. Increases in water and sewer rates for Brooklyn Park residents will be phased in until they are paying what the rest of the county does for water and sewer service.
In Baltimore, where city taxes subsidize water fees, the average quarterly bill is $22.73 for water and $31.66 for sewer service. In Anne Arundel, the average is $30.80 for water and $54.82 for sewer service.
Even phased in, the rate increases have angered residents and community representatives. "I'm still disappointed about the rate increase," said state Sen. Philip C. Jimeno, a Brooklyn Park Democrat, "but we lost that battle and we're moving on."
Pub Date: 1/26/97