Hearing sought on Piney Run plant plan

Gouge aims to halt brochure distribution

Carroll County

March 02, 2001|By Brenda J. Buote | Brenda J. Buote,SUN STAFF

Carroll Commissioner Julia Walsh Gouge is calling for a public hearing on a proposal to build a $14 million water treatment plant at Piney Run. She also wants to halt distribution of a brochure promoting the project because she says it fails to inform residents of alternative water sources.

"I want to give people an opportunity to voice their opinion," Gouge said yesterday. "I think we should get all the facts out there. Then, if the people want to go ahead with the Piney Run plant, so be it. I'm disappointed that this brochure doesn't look at other alternatives."

Rather than tap Piney Run, Gouge would like to expand Carroll's water treatment plant at Liberty Reservoir. But she was outvoted in July, 2-1, by Commissioners Robin Bartlett Frazier and Donald I. Dell.

Dell and Frazier have refused to discuss holding a public hearing.

"We voted to build the plant, so there's no point in further investigating the options," Dell said.

The commissioners were scheduled to discuss the brochure yesterday but canceled the meeting to attend a legislative hearing in Annapolis. They were reached by phone yesterday.

They're expected to review the brochure next week. Gouge said she will raise questions about claims made in the pamphlet. She questions projections that show the plant will pay for itself within 10 years, and that it will easily meet South Carroll's water demands during droughts.

Frazier created pamphlet

Frazier created the brochure to explain the rationale behind the Piney Run project. She said she wants to help residents understand that the proposed plant and the daily use of water would not have an adverse effect on recreation at Piney Run Park, a popular spot for boaters, anglers and nature enthusiasts.

"We were just trying to put the information we used to make our decision into a brochure that people could easily read and understand," Frazier said, "I couldn't write a book."

Gouge reiterated her concern that building the Piney Run treatment plant is costly and unnecessary. She said a new high-yield well in South Carroll would alleviate seasonal water shortages. She noted the county is also looking at other well sites on state-owned property at Springfield Hospital Center to supplement the supply.

With the wells on line, Gouge said, she sees no need for a second plant - unless development sharply increases in South Carroll, the county's most populous area.

`Less costly alternatives'

"Why do we have to have all this water now? What's the rush?" Gouge said. "We have other, far less costly alternatives. I understand that we need to plan for the future, but we should be looking out for the good of the whole community. I have no idea why we can't look at the broad picture."

Dell and Frazier have said a brochure will reach more people than a public hearing.

The county plans to print 10,000 copies of the brochure at a cost of about $3,300. About 7,200 copies will be mailed to South Carroll residents, who have suffered through water shortages in three of the past four summers. Copies will also be available at libraries and community centers.

The commissioners are expected to distribute it next week.

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