To ease water shortages in Carroll's most populated area, county officials have entered into negotiations with Baltimore City to draw more water from Liberty Reservoir.
The county would like to increase by 2 million gallons its daily allocation of water from the reservoir, a 75 billion-gallon lake that the city owns, and expand the Freedom Treatment Plant in Eldersburg.
The county must win the city's approval to proceed.
The county commissioners and several department heads who met recently with George G. Balog, Baltimore's public works director, said that the city was receptive to their proposals.
"We have an agreement in principle to allow additional withdrawal [of water] and for an expansion of the plant," said Gary Horst, county director of enterprise and recreation services. "Engineers can now proceed with the technical details."
Balog said Friday that "there is still work to do before there is an agreement."
The city will not approve the project until it has assurances that Carroll will not increase development in the watershed areas, according to Balog.
An increase in reservoir volume is feasible, but the city remains "sensitive to preserving the pureness of the water. Building in the area could affect its quality," Balog said.
South Carroll has nearly tripled in population to more than 28,000 residents since the plant was built in the early 1970s with a daily 3 million-gallon capacity.
The water system is often strained by operating at full capacity, supplying about 6,700 homes and businesses.
For the past three years, summer has brought restrictions in water use for residents who rely on the public water system. South Carroll's infrastructure has not kept pace as development continues.
"Development, both industrial and residential, affects the reservoir," Balog said. "We are concerned with development issues in Carroll County as they affect the quality of water."
During the meeting with Balog, Carroll officials heard city concerns "about rezoning acres for development," said Horst. Balog referred to a proposed plan that suggests rezoning nearly 500 acres in South Carroll for residential development. The county planning commission opposed those rezonings. The county commissioners have not reviewed the plan.