City eyes state aid to build pipeline

It paid $70,000 trucking in water from quarry

New well eases shortage

$2.5 million loan would build 5.5-mile water line


October 13, 2002|By Athima Chansanchai | Athima Chansanchai,SUN STAFF

Westminster officials will vote at tomorrow's Common Council meeting on a proposal to pursue a $2.5 million state loan that would help the city tap an emergency water supply and relieve the need to truck in water - a practice that has cost the city nearly $70,000 in the past month.

The city is looking for money to build a 5.5-mile emergency water main connection that would connect a quarry just outside Westminster to the city's Cranberry water treatment plant.

The pipeline would be buried along Route 31, providing a way for more than a million gallons of water a day to flow during emergency situations.

The loan would come from the Maryland Department of the Environment at a rate of 2.3 percent over 20 years.

Until a pipeline is built, the city could spend tens of thousands of dollars to replenish the local water supply. The city has been billed more than $69,000 for the 15 days that water has been trucked from the quarry, averaging about $4,600 a day for the service, said city Finance Director Stephen Dutterer.

Council President Damian L. Halstad said a permanent pipeline could be the best emergency water option for the city.

"We were thinking about doing a temporary pipeline for $1.5 million but we have this ability to tap into state financing that is only available for projects of an emergency nature," he said.

The plentiful and naturally occurring water source at Medford Quarry is free through an agreement between the city and LaFarge Corp., the quarry's owner.

The working quarry needs to pump out the water to maintain its operations and regularly discharges water into a nearby stream.

At a council meeting in August, the mayor and council agreed to let the planning and public works department call in trucks when the water level at the city's Raw Reservoir fell below 25 percent, and allocated $100,000 to the effort.

Trucks hauled in water on and off starting Sept. 18. The latest run of trucks feeding the city's water system started Monday and ended with Thursday's rainfall.

At tomorrow's meeting, the council will decide whether to set aside additional funds for trucking water because more than two-thirds of the original allocation has been spent, Dutterer said.

The cost would probably be higher were it not for the flow of water from the new well at Roop's Mill, which is pumping about 144,000 gallons a day into the city's system, said Jeff Glass, the city's utility manager.

The well, which has been on line for about a month, has made it possible for the city to rent only four trucks instead of the eight trucks originally planned.

Each truck carries 6,000 gallons in an eight-mile trip that starts at Route 31 and ends at the plant, off Route 27.

About 500,000 gallons of water a day have been put into the city's water system by the trucks, Glass said.

"A couple rains are not going to bring us out of the drought," Glass said.

"If we start getting average rainfall that would continue on some type of schedule, not once a month, we'll probably be OK."

For now, he said, trucking will continue as needed.

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