Dell seeking assurances on S. Carroll water

June 30, 1999|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

Commissioner Donald I. Dell wants to know if proposed improvements to the public water system in South Carroll, the county's most populous area and one often beset by seasonal shortages, will meet demand through 2020.

To augment the water supply in South Carroll, home to about 28,000, the county is set to dig a series of wells and expand its treatment plant.

Dell has asked the Public Works Department to report on whether the county should revive plans for a second treatment plant at Piney Run Lake, a $15 million project that was scrapped a few years ago in favor of less costly improvements. Dell wants details of the projected water demand for the next two decades.

"I want to know the necessity of a plant over the next 10 and 20 years," Dell said yesterday.

The commissioners are dealing with complaints about water shortages from South Carroll residents, nearly 18,000 of whom rely on the public system at Liberty Reservoir. A ban on all outdoor use in the area was imposed June 1 and moderated to alternate days two weeks later. The restriction will probably remain in effect throughout the summer, officials said.

Wells and an expansion of Freedom Water Treatment Plant could provide relief, but not for at least another year.

The county has nearly completed negotiations with the state that will allow for digging five wells on land at Springfield Hospital Center. State and county administrators made the final revisions to the agreement Friday. The document should be completed within 30 days, said J. Michael Evans, county director of public works.

Construction of the wells, a small filtration plant and connecting pipelines -- estimated to cost about $5 million -- should be completed within a year.

"Assuming the wells work, there will be no need for Piney Run for the next 10 years," said Evans.

Carroll is also negotiating with Baltimore City, owner of Liberty Reservoir and the surrounding watershed, for land to expand its treatment plant, and a 2 million-gallon increase in its daily allocation. If those discussions proceed favorably, the county will increase to 5 million gallons its daily draw from the reservoir.

"We are in the early stages with Baltimore," said Evans. "But if we get more water, there will be no need for another plant for 20 years."

Evans acknowledged "a lot of ifs," but said, "The city is not resistant. It is just a question of timing."

The city provides 1.6 million people in the metropolitan area with water, drawing as much as 80 million gallons a day from the reservoir.

If Carroll takes more water from Liberty, the city might have to rely on other sources, such as the Susquehanna River, to increase its supply, Evans said.

Evans assured Dell a report will be ready by late next month.

Pub Date: 6/30/99

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