Westminster mayor proposes countywide summit on water

June 03, 1999|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

Westminster Mayor Kenneth A. Yowan called yesterday for a countywide summit on a critical issue -- water.

"With all the growth, water is the No. 1 issue and dwarfs all others," Yowan said as he made his summit suggestion at the quarterly meeting of Carroll mayors with the Board of County Commissioners.

Yowan added that he would welcome "anything you can do in the long term to increase the supply."

Mayors of the eight towns use the quarterly meetings to air their concerns, and water and economic development topped yesterday's agenda. Several town leaders said they cannot attract industry without adequate infrastructure.

Commissioner Donald I. Dell said the time may have arrived for more reservoirs in the county. Carroll has owned land for two reservoirs for decades, but there are no immediate plans to build them and any proposals would face stringent monitoring from the federal government.

"We have two parcels ready to go and were stopped by the Environmental Protection Agency," said Commissioner Julia Walsh Gouge.

With South Carroll, the county's most populous area, under a ban imposed Tuesday on outdoor usage because of heat and dry weather until further notice, officials are calling for measures to increase the water supply.

Gouge invited state and federal development councils to help Carroll address its water woes. Stephen R. McHenry, executive director of the Forvm for Rural Maryland, who was attending the mayoral meeting, said his group would discuss water issues at its meeting this month.

The commissioners meet annually in the towns, in addition to the quarterly sessions with the mayors. Ordinarily, they schedule a visit to Hampstead in December. But Mayor Christopher M. Nevin asked for a meeting as soon as possible to discuss lawsuits involving the town's wastewater treatment facility.

"The No. 1 issue is water and the No. 2 is what to do with it when you are done with it," Nevin said.

Manchester has solved its water supply crisis for the time being. Crews recently found another potential source, and the town plans to drill a new well there.

Mount Airy's experience illustrates the effects of growth on the water supply.

"We have pumps running 22 hours a day when they used to run 14 hours for the same amount of water," said Mayor Gerald Johnson.

The county completed a water resources study more than 20 years ago. Dell said it is time for a new study and to reconsider the proposed reservoirs as a long-term solution.

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