Residents want wells instead of new plant

Hearing held on plan for Piney Run Lake

February 12, 2002|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

Carroll residents pushed the county to drill wells to supplement the water supply and to abandon plans for a $15 million treatment plant on Piney Run Lake at a public hearing last night in Sykesville.

The county commissioners scheduled the hearing at Sykesville-Freedom District Fire Department to gather comments on proposed revisions to the county's water-sewer master plan. The state must accept the revisions before the county can proceed with construction of the plant at Piney Run Lake.

The Maryland Department of the Environment has called the project inconsistent with Carroll's master plan and has refused to issue a construction permit. The county Department of Planning has prepared the 62-page draft of additions and deletions in hopes of appeasing the state.

Many in the audience of 50 used the hearing as an opportunity to voice their opposition to using Piney Run Lake, a favorite recreation area, as a water source.

They asked the county to build a series of wells to augment the water supply in South Carroll, the county's most populous area and one beset with seasonal water shortages.

"We are staring drought conditions in the face, and it is appalling to stop the wells," said Mike Naused, chairman of Freedom Area Citizens Council. "This shows no concern for the people here. You're building a $15 million boondoggle."

Commissioner Julia Walsh Gouge repeatedly has asked her colleagues to consider the wells. Commissioners Donald I. Dell and Robin Bartlett Frazier have refused and have pushed for the plant as the best long-range option.

South Carroll almost certainly will endure another summer of water restrictions this year, officials said.

Because the wells remain in the plan, many urged the commissioners to reconsider their decision.

Others said the revisions were written solely to appease the state and win approval for the project.

"You have lost some of your goals," said Dot Sumey, whose home overlooks Piney Run Lake. "Where is all the water going to come from for all the building around here? You are not looking enough ahead and conserving what we have."

Many were concerned that the new wording, including deletion of a water resource management program, weakened environmental protections.

Ross Dangel of Eldersburg called the changes "ill-considered and detrimental to our watersheds and drinking water."

Gerald Ryan of Westminster said the county's rush "to reply to the state and move Piney Run forward has resulted in a flawed plan."

"Not bringing on the wells will prove to be an error in judgment," he said.

Hampstead and Sykesville also opposed the changes.

"The watershed management program protects the quality and quantity of both surface and ground water for community water supplies," Sykesville council members wrote in a letter read into the hearing record. "Gutting the plan of requirements to monitor and protect water resources creates an impotent document."

Hampstead called for strong buffers to safeguard water sources and aquifer protection areas.

The town also asked for cooperative enforcement to deter the risk of contamination.

Before voting on the ordinance, the commissioners will leave the record open for 10 days to allow for written comment.

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