Frazier goes on Web site over project

Commissioner favors new water facility on Piney Run lake

`Avenue to get ... facts out'

Gouge opposes plant, wants county focus on Liberty Reservoir

South Carroll

January 04, 2001|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

To debunk what she calls the "unfounded fears" surrounding a proposed water treatment plant at Piney Run Reservoir in Sykesville, Commissioner Robin Bartlett Frazier has taken the unusual step of posting information about the project on the county's Web site.

By moving the issue to the Internet, Frazier said she hopes she has created "another avenue to get the facts out" and allay the public's anxiety about making the reservoir a water supply source, a use for which it was built 30 years ago.

"We want to use every avenue we have," Frazier said, noting she also plans to publish a brochure detailing the history of Piney Run and plans for the $13 million project.

The manmade lake holds nearly 2 billion gallons of water and has become the county's most popular recreation spot, a favorite with boaters, anglers and campers.

The plant could process as much as 3 million gallons of water a day and could alleviate seasonal shortages in South Carroll, the county's most populous area.

But, it has sharply divided the Board of Commissioners. While Frazier and Commissioner Donald I. Dell want to move ahead with building the plant, Commissioner Julia Walsh Gouge remains adamant in her opposition.

Gouge wants improvements to the county's plant at Liberty Reservoir, a 45-million gallon lake owned by Baltimore City. She has aired her views on public television and gathered support from several South Carroll community groups, who fear another plant would bring more development and detract from the beauty at Piney Run.

Frazier dismisses fears that the plant would have an adverse impact on recreation at the 300-acre lake, which is surrounded by forest and parkland.

The county's engineering studies show that a daily withdrawal of 3 million gallons will have "a minimal effect on the level of the lake," she said.

The staff is also looking at options for raising the water level in the lake.

Frazier has researched the history of the reservoir, originally built for sediment and flood control and for future water supply.

"Recreation was also planned, and it has happened," she said. "There is no reason why there can't be both: a water source and recreation."

Planning for Piney Run began in 1964 with solid support and financing from the federal government and the state, Frazier said.

"The county's cost portion was small," she said.

South Carroll, home to nearly 30,000 residents, relies on Liberty Reservoir for its drinking water. Carroll officials had hoped to renovate and expand the county's plant and double the daily draw to 6 million gallons - an amount needed to meet the demands of planned development.

The expansion is on hold while the county tries to renegotiate a long-standing environmental protection agreement with the city.

Frazier insisted that the stalled agreement has nothing to do with her decision to move ahead with a second treatment plant for South Carroll.

"Piney Run is being built because it is the most cost-effective, responsible, long-term plan to provide water for our citizens," she said.

Carroll pays the city about $200,000 annually for the water it draws from Liberty Reservoir and should expect those costs to increase, Frazier said. The city recently imposed a 19 percent increase in the cost of water. The rate has increased six times in the past 15 years and doubled since 1988, she said.

"If we build a plant at Piney Run, we won't have to purchase water," Frazier said. "We own the water there."

Frazier's brochure will detail the history, statistics and her rationale for building a Piney Run plant. Copies will be mailed with quarterly water bills and will be available at the Eldersburg library.

On the Web page, Frazier plans frequent updates to provide the public with current information, she said.

"People will pick this up, especially if there is fresh information all the time," she said.

Information: http://ccgov.carr. org/commiss/issues.htm

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