Board approves series of wells Sources of water at hospital may deliver 1 million gallons a day

August 13, 1998|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

To augment the water supply in Carroll's most populous area, the county will develop a series of wells at Springfield Hospital Center that could deliver 1 million gallons a day to customers.

In an agreement signed by the state Board of Public Works last week, the county also said it would continue supplying the hospital and other nearby state properties with as much water as needed now and into the future.

New water sources must be found to serve the county's most populous area of 28,000 residents and growing. When South Carroll reaches its planned growth level, county officials estimate demand at 5 million gallons a day, with the state needing about 20 percent of that amount.

"We now have enough to meet current demands, but we are running near the edge," said J. Michael Evans, director of the county Department of Public Works. "We need more sources."

Test wells have produced about 500,000 gallons a day and will be developed into Freedom Water System, which supplies about 6,000 households in Eldersburg and Sykesville. Plans call for locating an additional 500,000 gallons on the hospital property.

"The state has approved an agreement that allows us to develop water supplies using water from sources at the hospital," Evans said.

"We agreed to continually supply water to Springfield, which is our biggest customer, but we have asked the state to tell us when and where that supply will have to be increased."

The state estimates its water needs at the hospital will double within the next decade, Evans said. A police training center is under construction at the hospital and Sykesville plans to develop the 131-acre Warfield Complex on the property into a business center.

As the biggest water consumer in the area, Springfield draws about 400,000 gallons a day from the county-owned system.

The hospital uses about 200,000 gallons daily, with the remaining 200,000 gallons going to the state Laundry Facility -- a minimum-security prison adjoining Springfield -- and O'Farrell Youth Center on Henryton Road.

For now, the entire supply comes from Freedom Water System, which has a daily capacity of 3 million gallons, water that it draws from Liberty Reservoir and processes at its treatment plant. Baltimore, which owns the reservoir, takes 80 million gallons daily from the reservoir.

Like the other Freedom system customers, the hospital pays a quarterly water bill. In June, the fee topped $44,000. The money goes into an enterprise fund, so "theoretically, Springfield is helping us to pay for development of more water sources," Evans said.

Several underground streams cross the Springfield property, which is known as the area's most prolific spot for water. The county is drilling wells to find the most water-rich sites.

About a year ago, the county scrapped plans for a $14 million filtration plant near Piney Run Reservoir and began searching for less costly well water sources at the hospital.

The county will hire contractors to build a small chlorination plant -- about 400 square feet -- and wellheads at the hospital site. New pipes will connect the four wells with that plant. Once the water is chlorinated, additional pipes will carry it to the water main near Route 32 and onward to customers. Cost is estimated at about $500,000 and construction could be completed by the end of the year.

The search for more water will continue at Springfield, Evans said. The county hydrogeologist has identified six potential sites in reasonable proximity to the water main. Typically, a good well will yield 100,000 gallons a day, Evans said. Drilling costs about $5,000 for each test well.

"We have planned further water exploration and are looking for another half-million gallons," he said. "We have half of what we need and are optimistic that we will find the rest."

Even if the search is successful, the system will be about 1 million gallons short of its future need. Expanding the treatment plant is one possibility under study.

"The question is whether we can soup up the capacity and pick up an additional million gallons," Evans said. "Right now, the intake pumps and other equipment have limitations."

Pub Date: 8/13/98

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