City paves way for water plant expansion

Carroll, Baltimore pact would allow doubling of daily draw at reservoir

February 17, 2005|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

Baltimore's Board of Estimates approved an agreement yesterday that will allow Carroll County to move forward with a $14 million expansion of the Freedom Water Treatment Plant in South Carroll.

The agreement was among several documents that the five-member board, which includes Mayor Martin O'Malley, approved without discussion

"They called and told me it was all approved," Douglas E. Myers, Carroll's director of public works, said yesterday. "It is a done deal that only needs the city's seal stamped on it before they mail it to me. This is a real relief."

The city will lease Carroll County an additional 1.62 acres, for a total of 3.63 acres, off Oakland Road adjoining the 45-billion-gallon Liberty Reservoir, which supplies drinking water to more than 2 million people in the metropolitan area.

The 15-year lease, with seven 10-year renewal options and an annual fee of $1, will provide the county with land so that it can upgrade and add equipment to the plant, and eventually double the capacity.

"The agreement is the only thing we were waiting for," said Tom Rio, chief of the Carroll Bureau of Building Construction. "We will put our signatures on the contract. We will have a kickoff construction meeting in a week or two."

The county has hired Construction Dynamics Group Inc. of Columbia to oversee the three-year project. The commissioners awarded a $1.8 million contract last week to the construction management company. The contractor will provide engineers to help the county design and build the project, and will also assist in the lengthy permitting process, Rio said.

Carroll draws an average 2.2 million gallons daily from the city-owned reservoir, raw water that the plant treats and pumps to more than 20,000 people in 7,000 homes and businesses throughout South Carroll.

In times of peak demand, the Freedom plant can handle as much as 3 million gallons a day, but its 30-year-old equipment cannot continually operate at that level, officials said. The expansion and increased water supply should eliminate the persistent shortages in the area during prolonged periods of hot, dry weather.

The agreement calls for doubling the daily allocation, the amount the plant can draw from the reservoir, to an average 4.2 million gallons after the expansion. The maximum draw would be set at 6 million gallons a day, an amount the county would need only in times of high demand, Myers said.

The county has recently withheld residential building permits because of water shortages. The county commissioners have repeatedly stressed that the expanded treatment plant will meet current demand and not spur development in South Carroll, the county's most populous and fastest-growing area.

"This agreement is all we needed, and now we have it and we can get going," Myers said.

Sun staff writer Eric Siegel contributed to this article.

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