Proposal drafted on water needs Plan recommends 2 new treatment plants, upgrades of 2 systems

October 22, 1998|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

Trying to meet the demands of growth, Carroll officials have unveiled a plan to add to and improve public water systems that serve the county's eight towns and the populous Freedom District.

The 200-page draft recommends construction of water and sewer systems for Pleasant Valley, a water treatment plant for Wakefield Valley, a second plant for the Freedom area, improvements to systems in Mount Airy and Taneytown, and continued land acquisition for the long-planned Gillis Falls Reservoir that would eventually serve most of South Carroll.

It identifies potential problem areas and includes maps and projections for the next few decades.

The plan will be released at a public hearing at 3 p.m. today at the County Office Building in Westminster.

The plan devotes much of its attention to water issues in South Carroll, home to about 28,000 people.

Planners are confident the fast-growing Westminster area will not experience the water shortages that seasonally trouble southern Carroll.

"We don't see the gap between demand and capacity in Westminster, a gap we are concerned about in the Freedom area," said Barbara C. Moser, county comprehensive planner.

Long-range plans for reservoirs at Gillis Falls and Union Mills remain viable options for future water sources.

"We are still planning those reservoirs, but it is very long range," Moser said.

Carroll, the fastest growing county in the Baltimore metropolitan area, has doubled its population to nearly 150,000 since its original master plan -- a blueprint for growth -- was written in 1965.

The water plan has undergone several revisions in the past 30 years, each with the approval of the state.

About 40 percent of county residents are served by public water systems.

While a $14 million second filtration plant for the Freedom district, proposed for the south end of Piney Run Reservoir, is part of the plan's solutions for South Carroll, it probably will not be built.

Faced with residential opposition to construction on Piney Run and the high cost of building and maintenance, the plant is all but scrapped, said J. Michael Evans, county director of public works.

"In my opinion, it is a dead issue," Evans said. "At best, it becomes a fallback."

The county has decided on a less costly well system as a backup and has located several sites at Springfield Hospital Center, which the county supplies with water. Once on line, those wells could deliver 1 million more gallons a day to the 6,000 households hooked into the Freedom system. Daily capacity now is 3 million gallons a day.

The search for more water will continue at Springfield, Evans said.

The county hydrogeologist has identified six potential sites in reasonable proximity to the county water main.

Typically, a good well will yield 100,000 gallons a day, Evans said. Drilling costs about $5,000 for each test well.

New water sources must be found to serve the county's most populous area. When South Carroll reaches its planned growth level, county officials estimate the demand will be 5 million gallons a day, with the state needing about 20 percent of that for the hospital and several adjacent properties.

Even if the search for new sources is successful, the system will be about 1 million gallons short of future demand. Expanding the treatment plant on Mineral Hill Road is one possibility under study. That would entail reaching an agreement with Baltimore City.

The area's supply comes from Freedom Water System, which draws from Liberty Reservoir and processes the water at its treatment plant. Baltimore, which owns the reservoir, takes 80 million gallons daily from the reservoir.

Pub Date: 10/22/98

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