Pact calls for sharing expertise on water issues

August 13, 2006|By MARY GAIL HARE | MARY GAIL HARE,SUN REPORTER

Harford County made cooperation on water issues official last week, when municipal and county leaders, a water company executive and a U.S. Army colonel signed a pact to share resources.

With the Susquehanna River in the background, officials gathered Thursday at Swan Harbor Farm, a 503-acre county park in Havre de Grace. County Executive David R. Craig said he chose the river as a backdrop for forming the Harford County Water Resources Management and Strategic Planning Workgroup.

"Our main purpose is to share information and expertise about sources, processing and distribution," Craig said. "We are laying the groundwork for change so that we are not competing with each other and wasting time and energy."

Craig didn't have any opposition in establishing the group, an effort he began soon after he took office a year ago.

"This is a huge step in the right direction," said Bel Air Mayor Terry O. Hanley. "It will help protect our watershed."

Members, who will meet regularly, include elected and public works officials from the county and from Aberdeen, Bel Air and Havre de Grace.

Aberdeen Proving Ground, which relies on Aberdeen for its drinking water, and Maryland American Water Co., which supplies many homes in the county, will also be represented.

Havre de Grace Mayor John P. Correri Jr. said the panel will present "a golden opportunity to keep all players at the table, even if we just share what's going on and where we are all headed."

Craig praised Aberdeen's efforts to find alternative water sources. The town has proposed the construction of a desalinization plant that would allow it to tap into the Chesapeake Bay for drinking water.

"Aberdeen could become the poster child for water cooperation," said Mayor S. Fred Simmons. "We have needed this agreement for a long time. We appreciate it and think it will get maximum use."

William Walsh, general manager of Maryland American Water Co., said similar agreements have been reached across the country.

"The water industry is becoming more complex and global," Walsh said. "It is not necessarily always within our control."

mary.gail.hare@baltsun.com

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