Commission eyes changes to water plan

Planning staff's revisions eliminate arcane references

Information session Feb. 4

Updated document aims to resolve Piney Run issues

January 23, 2002|By Brenda J. Buote | Brenda J. Buote,SUN STAFF

Carroll commissioners took a first step yesterday toward revising the county's water and sewerage master plan, a document that Maryland environmental officials have used as their basis for rejecting a construction permit for a $15 million water treatment plant at Piney Run Lake in Sykesville.

The commissioners reviewed the county planning staff's proposed revisions to the 62-page document, changes that would eliminate two arcane references - one to water resource organizations that no longer exist and the other to a county ordinance that sought to protect ground and surface water that was never passed.

"We removed verbiage that is related to things that had not been done, such as the ordinance, and added language to reflect what we're doing now," James Slater, the county's environmental compliance specialist, told the commissioners. "One of the things we got in trouble with was saying we were going to do things that we did not do, so we're trying to avoid that."

It was not clear yesterday whether the proposed changes would appease state officials. Officials with the Maryland Department of the Environment, in letters last summer to the commissioners, repeatedly said the planned Piney Run plant would be at odds with Carroll's water and sewerage master plan.

"I haven't seen the amended plan and the agency cannot comment on something that has not been sent to us," said Rich McIntyre, MDE's spokesman. "When we receive it, we will review it and make appropriate comments. We hope this will be a workable document that will resolve the outstanding issues the county has in reference to its water supply."

In recent months, the state has offered to work with Carroll on other options to supplement the water supply in South Carroll, the county's most populous and rapidly growing area, which has had severe water shortages three of the past four summers. Those alternatives include a series of wells in Sykesville and expansion of Freedom Water Treatment Plant at Liberty Reservoir.

The commissioners did not comment on the proposed revisions yesterday, but said they would study the suggested amendments before a public hearing.

Commissioners Robin Bartlett Frazier and Donald I. Dell have pushed for the plant for more than a year. They have vowed to move forward despite the state's objections and consistent opposition from Commissioner Julia Walsh Gouge and many South Carroll residents.

An informational meeting on the suggested amendments is scheduled for Feb. 4, with a public hearing Feb. 11. Both meetings are to begin at 7 p.m. at Sykesville-Freedom District Fire Department. The commissioners are expected to take action on the proposed changes soon after the hearing.

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