County board approves revamped water plan

Planners' revisions aim to address state concerns over Piney Run proposal

October 16, 2002|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

The county commissioners approved yesterday a revised water and sewer master plan that makes a priority of the proposed $16 million Piney Run water treatment plant in Sykesville.

County planners drafted the revisions hoping to resolve the state's objections to the plant, a project that Commissioners Donald I. Dell and Robin Bartlett Frazier have pushed for two years. But state officials said they feared the plant would spur development in South Carroll, an area beset with crowded schools and roads.

Officials from Baltimore City and Baltimore County also have objected to the plan and criticized Carroll's record on development in sensitive watershed areas. And all eight commissioner candidates, including incumbent Julia Walsh Gouge, oppose it. Dell and Frazier lost in the Republican primary last month.

The vote on the plan was 2-1, with Gouge dissenting. "I don't believe in Piney Run and that is my main reason," Gouge said in explaining her vote.

The plant has generated strident opposition from some South Carroll residents, who see it as potentially harmful to Piney Run Lake, a popular recreation spot. State officials refused to issue a construction permit for the plant, which they called inconsistent with Carroll's water and sewer master plan.

"The state has told us that Piney Run was not consistent with our water plan," said Bobbi Moser, county planner. "The project was in jeopardy without these revisions."

Gouge said she also wanted the construction of wells written into the plan. The plan's maps show existing well sites and potential locations that have not been developed. Wells are also listed as possible water supply sources.

"The wells should be in the plan and we should say that we are going to use them," said Gouge.

Moser said, "We also have [included] options for drilling additional wells. But the plan says we are pursuing Piney Run."

Gouge has long pushed for the construction of a series of wells to augment the water supply in South Carroll, the county's most populous area and one that suffers from seasonal water shortages. Dell and Frazier called the wells a short-term solution to the water woes and focused their efforts on the Piney Run plant.

Dell agreed that the wells should be included in the plan, though he pointed out that the county has no permits to draw water from them.

"If we don't adopt this plan, where does that leave South Carroll as far as water supply?" Dell said.

The plan goes to the Maryland Department of the Environment, which has final authority over water and sewer issues. MDE could take as long as six months to complete its review. The department can also approve or disapprove specific portions of the document.

"This plan is not effective until the state's final approval, but this is an important first step," Moser said of the commissioners' vote yesterday.

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