Consultants recommend Carroll, Md. share pipeline

Proposal for water system at Springfield Hospital could save $1.4 million

September 17, 2002|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

State consultants designing improvements to the aging water system at Springfield Hospital Center in Sykesville are recommending that the county and state build one pipeline that would serve the hospital and the town - a proposal that could save taxpayers more than $1 million.

James Peck, director of Maryland Environmental Services, told county commissioners yesterday that in looking at ways to upgrade the Springfield water system, "we came across an opportunity for the county," and urged them to consider the cost benefits of sharing a pipeline.

Before the state opens its $60 million Public Safety Training Center on former hospital property, it must make significant upgrades to Springfield's utilities, some of which date to the hospital's opening in 1896.

Carroll County has long planned an additional 16-inch water main along Route 32 to improve pressure in its delivery of water to Sykesville and enhance fire protection, but the project is several years away.

The state's new main would go through the hospital property, parallel to the pipeline the county plans.

Two projects would cost $2.4 million. If the county would speed its construction timetable, it could share the costs of the state's pipeline and reap the same benefits, the consultants said. The combined system would cost $1.4 million less than installing two parallel lines.

The proposal to share a pipeline also would help meet future water demand, provide a backup if problems occur and add fire protection capability, said Joseph C. Sowinski, an engineering consultant.

"At the end of the process, we would be assured that we would have savings," said Commissioner Donald I. Dell. "I really have no hesitation at all that this is a good deal. We just have to work out the details."

Commissioner Robin Bartlett Frazier promised to review the proposal with county staff.

"It sounds like a good idea, but the devil is in the details," Frazier said. "I have to know how this affects our operating costs and to make sure everything is tied up before I move forward."

Commissioner Julia Walsh Gouge is on a brief vacation.

Time is a factor because engineers have finished more than half the design for improvements and soon must make a decision on the size of the pipeline.

"We want to do what is best for the state and the overall needs of the county," said James A. Avirett, a partner in Whitman, Requardt and Associates, the company that did the engineering study and is designing the system.

The state Board of Public Works also would have to approve the concept, but generally that panel looks favorably on projects that benefit the state and municipalities, said Michael Wojton, director of the water/wastewater program at Maryland Environmental Services.

The state is rebuilding Springfield's water system and would build a pipeline anyway, but it probably would be a smaller one suitable to serve only facilities on the hospital's system, Peck said.

If the county agrees to the project, Carroll's public works department would assume responsibility for the system and water distribution.

Carroll bills Springfield on a quarterly basis for water the hospital draws from the county's treatment plant at Liberty Reservoir. Under an agreement with the state, the county must be able to provide up to 400,000 gallons daily to Springfield, but current use is about half that amount.

"Basically, all that will happen is the state will run a pipe at the hospital and then we will be responsible to provide water to the whole complex," Frazier said. "I need to at least feel comfortable with this direction and to have some idea what the needs of the whole project are."

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