Design firm hired for Sykesville wells

Project expected to ease S. Carroll water woes

March 10, 2004|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

The Carroll County commissioners awarded an engineering contract yesterday for the design of a series of wells that will alleviate persistent water shortages in South Carroll.

A six-member committee evaluated 10 bids - five on each project - for wells that will be built on Springfield Hospital Center and at Freedom Park. Both sites are in Sykesville. Whitman, Requardt & Associates of Baltimore, which earned the highest scores from the committee for both projects, will engineer the work.

Together, the projects came in below budget. The design work for as many as six wells at Springfield will cost no more than $200,723. The work was initially budgeted at $390,000. The two wells in the county park will cost no more than $162,190 to design, a project budgeted at $97,810.

"We saved all this money, but I am sure there are other places for it," said Commissioner Perry L. Jones Jr.

More savings could ensue, since the same company is designing all the wells, said Frank Schaeffer, deputy director of Carroll's Department of Public Works. The wells will eventually connect to the public water system that serves about 20,000 people in South Carroll, the county's most populous area.

Commissioner Dean L. Minnich said he was satisfied that the county was finally moving ahead with the South Carroll wells. Commissioner Julia Walsh Gouge, who was absent from the session yesterday, has long pushed for the wells as a solution to the area's water shortages. Preliminary tests show an additional 1 million gallons a day could become available when all the proposed wells are operating.

The engineering phase will involve design of pipelines and small treatment plants. The effort will take about six months, during which time the county expects to receive an appropriations permit from the state, a vital step in the construction process that allows officials to obtain funding.

Douglas Myers, county director of public works, said he expects to have a permit in hand by May 1. Construction will take another six months.

"Even if everything runs smoothly, we are still looking at close to a year before these wells are on line," said Myers. "It is a slower pace than what we want and we better start hoping for a wet summer. We are still looking at next spring before there is more water."

For five of the past seven summers, water shortages have forced the county to impose restrictions on outdoor use that prohibited residents from filling their pools or watering their lawns. Voluntary conservation has helped considerably, Myers said.

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