Retiring Carroll professor prepares to wade into dispute over reservoir

April 25, 2000|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

After 30 years opining on local politics to students and the media, Donald R. Jansiewicz does not plan to retire into silence.

The Carroll Community College professor of political science might be leaving the classroom, but he is not leaving public debate. The Catonsville resident has volunteered to work with the Baltimore Metropolitan Council, offering to help the board resolve water resource problems.

Paul Farragut, executive director of the council, said he looks forward to working "with a senior with so much experience. It is terrific that somebody with his expertise would volunteer with us."

Jansiewicz hopes to succeed where officials and administrators have failed, by bringing about the ratification of a long-standing agreement to protect Liberty Reservoir and its watershed.

The reservoir is a 45 billion-gallon lake at Carroll's southern border, owned by Baltimore City. It supplies water to 1.8 million people in the metropolitan area. "The big challenge is to keep all jurisdictions on board and preserving water quality," said Jansiewicz. "I really want to work toward reapproval of a basic agreement to protect the reservoir and the surrounding watershed."

An even greater challenge is getting Carroll officials to reaffirm the county's commitment to watershed protection by signing off on an update to a long-standing pact between the city and the metropolitan counties.

The Watershed Protection Agreement, written more than 20 years ago, safeguards the lake and the 160-square-mile surrounding area from uncontrolled development. Nearly all of that land is in Carroll. The county commissioners have refused to reaffirm the pact, saying that the document infringes on local planning authority and stymies economic development. Baltimore City is pressuring Carroll to sign by withholding approval of a water treatment plant expansion and an increase in the county's daily water allocation from the reservoir.

To serve South Carroll, the county's most populous area with more than 28,000 residents, officials say the water treatment plant must be expanded and that the daily water allocation must be increased by 2 million gallons. The city allows the county to draw 3 million gallons a day from the reservoir, which is barely enough to meet the demands of South Carroll.

Jansiewicz said he sees the stumbling blocks as language problems.

"Fundamentally, what the county commissioners want is freedom to develop," said Jansiewicz. "But the pressure is on. This reservoir affects too many people for somebody to say, `Just trust me.' "

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