With only a few details to be worked out, the county commissioners have set a date to sign an agreement to help protect the Liberty Reservoir watershed - and, indirectly, augment the water supply for Carroll County residents.
The commissioners, apparently within reach of an understanding with Baltimore City officials on conditions within the metropolitan area's Watershed Protection Agreement, have set Feb. 24 for a formal signing of the document.
By signing the document, the commissioners would renew a promise originally made by the county in 1984 to safeguard watershed areas from rampant development. The renewed agreement also could mean that the state would act swiftly on Carroll's request to build wells to supply more water to South Carroll, its most populous area, and it could greatly enhance the county's bargaining position as it tries to negotiate more water from the city. The city owns Liberty Reservoir, the source of drinking water for nearly 2 million people, including about 20,000 in South Carroll.
"This signals improvements in regional cooperation on a broad scale," said Frank Johnson, special assistant to Julia Walsh Gouge, president of the Carroll County Board of Commissioners. "The date for the signing is on the calendar and it will be a big day for Carroll County and the whole region."
The county has a few issues to work out with the city, but nothing that would delay the signing, which is expected to draw officials from Baltimore city and county and the state, said Gouge.
"I think it will all come together," Gouge said. "We want to restate our agreement with the city and renew our contract for purchasing raw water."
Gouge said she spoke to Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley at a meeting of the Baltimore Metropolitan Council on Tuesday and found him supportive.
"The mayor assured me that he would talk to his public works director about our issues," Gouge said. "Everything is all out there on the table and I am certain we can get it all straightened out."