Pump tests produced a good yield from two new wells in Taneytown, where the water supply has been a major concern during the past year, officials said.
The city will build two well houses, with pipes, pumps and chlorinating systems, said City Manager Gary W. Hardman. The average cost to set up one municipal well is about $350,000.
"We hope two more new wells will be up and operating by June or July," he said.
The 72-hour pump tests showed flows of 68 gallons per minute from one well, and 173 from the second, or about 98,000 and 250,0000 gallons a day, he said.
That is more than the 100,000 gallons a day that the Maryland Department of the Environment has said it would allow the city to withdraw - an allocation that city officials want increased, Hardman said.
The city officials would like to have an additional 130,000 gallons per day, to be held in reserve, not necessarily to supply new construction, he said. This would compensate for having Taneytown's best well operating at less than half its capacity after a contamination cleanup, which strained the system last summer.
"The results are very good," Hardman said of the new wells. Their location in the Big Pipe Creek watershed had not been tapped before, and there had been concern that the rocks might hold little water.
In May, the city received a report from an MDE hydrogeologist projecting less water underground - at 54 percent to 61 percent of the yields projected in studies dating from 1988. Taneytown's consultant said, however, that there appeared to be enough water for its current service area and for new construction that had received permits.
"They are approaching capacity," said Charles L. Zeleski, the Carroll County Health Department's acting director of environmental health.
In February, the Taneytown City Council enacted an ordinance requiring developers of five units or more to supply water. But that did not apply to approved developments, such as the 500-unit Carroll Vista retirement community under construction.
Under the old requirements, a builder had only to provide likely sites where the city could drill for water and develop a supply - at the city's expense - as with the two new wells on the Carroll Vista acreage.
Also at Carroll Vista, Zeleski said, the MDE recently agreed to reduce its standard for the number of gallons per day per unit, when applied to senior housing. Based upon usage studies in Union Bridge and elsewhere, the requirement was reduced from 250 gallons per unit per day to 125 for the older-adult units.
"The end result is that, based on the number of senior housing units already approved in the last six months, they added 6,000 to 7,000 gallons of additional capacity," Zeleski said.
But the extra water is not reserved for Carroll Vista, he said. Building permits remain on a first-come basis.
This lower standard for senior housing translates into an additional 48 or 49 building permits, Hardman said.
"The change comes at about the same time we said they were approaching capacity," Zeleski said.
MDE and Carroll County officials said after a June 1 meeting with builders and city officials that they would not approve record plats or site plans for development in Taneytown.
And they predicted that the county Health Department might refuse to sign building permits, even for approved projects.
"Nobody's been turned down for any building permits," Zeleski said. "If we get building permits and there is capacity, we'll sign it."
As for recording plats, he said, "there is and has been" a moratorium. "We're not allowing the creation of new lots. The number of lots that already exist will use what capacity there is."
The water from the new wells has not been taken into account yet, Zeleski said.
The city's most productive well, No. 13, still is being pumped at 120 gallons per minute, Hardman said. It will probably be at least several years before it can again be used at its 260-gallons-a-minute capacity.
The well was shut down more than a year ago while carbon filters were installed to remove a cleaning solvent that had registered above the federal standard for drinking water.
The loss of water from the No. 13 well created a strain on the system that led Mayor W. Robert Flickinger to issue an emergency executive order June 15 that restricted outdoor uses such as filling pools, washing cars and watering lawns. Residents complied, and the ban was lifted a month later.