August 09, 2008

State report warns of water shortages

Maryland's investment in water resources is "inadequate" to address future shortages that could eventually threaten public health if projected population growth occurs, according to a report that an advisory panel delivered yesterday to Gov. Martin O'Malley.

The committee suggested increasing state spending by $72 million over the next eight years to finance several steps to begin addressing future water issues. The money would provide for additional staff at the Maryland Department of the Environment, enhance the agency's permit enforcement, create a statewide water monitoring network and provide incentives for conservation.

The report states that the additional money should come from a combination of state general funds and a possible fee applied to residential and commercial consumers.

The state projects that an additional 670,000 new households may be drawing water in 2030 in Maryland. That increase could cause "a greater risk" of damaging encroachment on water resources, the report stated. Future droughts could cause "threats to public health, parched aquatic systems, building [moratoriums], stressed communities, stagnation of irrigation-dependent farming on the Eastern Shore and fewer new water-using commercial and industrial facilities in the state," the report stated.

The fastest growth is expected in rural counties such as Caroline, Carroll, Cecil, Charles, Frederick, Queen Anne's and St. Mary's, according to the report. Those areas "must determine whether the available water supplied and infrastructure can accommodate the projected growth," the report stated.

"While Maryland has so far enjoyed safe and adequate supplies of drinking water, we cannot be complacent about the future," O'Malley said in a statement.

The committee was formed in 2005 and was chaired by M. Gordon Wolman, a professor of geography and international affairs at the Johns Hopkins University. It included a mix of local politicians, environment agency members and academics.

Annie Linskey



State to open office in South Korea

Maryland plans to open an office in Seoul, South Korea, to foster foreign investment in the state and to expand export opportunities.

The office, which is scheduled to open in the fall, would be the state's sixth overseas.

Ellicott City-based IDI Corp. will run the office on a contingency basis so that any state funding would be based on the company's ability to attract South Korean companies and jobs to Maryland. IDI is owned and operated by Jongun Chang and Lawrence Chang, who have ties to the South Korean business community, state officials said.

Maryland exports to South Korea totaled $181 million last year, and the country ranked as the state's 14th largest trading partner. As of May this year, Maryland had about $94 million in exports there.

Laura Smitherman

Carroll County


Lightning blamed in two-alarm blaze

Investigators from the state fire marshal's office have determined that lightning caused a two-alarm fire in Carroll County on Thursday night that left 11 families homeless, authorities said yesterday.

Lightning hit the roof of the 12-unit, two-story condominium building in the 1000 block of Stone Brook Road in Eldersburg, investigators said. One unit was unoccupied. Two families were assisted by the Red Cross, and nine by friends and family.

One resident was treated at Carroll Hospital Center for minor smoke inhalation and released, authorities said. Damage was estimated at about $280,000.

Ellie Baublitz



Monument, Fayette streets to be closed

East Monument Street between Fallsway and Greenmount Avenue will be closed from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. today and tomorrow because of a demolition project, according to the Baltimore Department of Transportation.

Eastbound traffic on Centre Street headed for Monument Street will be detoured north onto the Fallsway. Motorists need to stay in the right lane and turn east onto Eager Street, south onto Greenmount Avenue and back to Monument.

Also today, all but one lane of Fayette Street between Saint Paul and Charles streets will be closed for a crane operation from 6 a.m. to noon. No detours are in place, but transportation officials warn that MTA bus stops on Fayette Street between Charles and Calvert streets will be temporarily closed and motorists should consider using Franklin Street to avoid delays.

Howard St. project has been completed

An intersection near Camden Yards that has been closed since July 28, causing rush-hour backups for motorists who come into and out of the southern part of Baltimore, reopened yesterday, the city's Department of Transportation announced. The project, which lasted four days longer than planned, is complete, and drivers can now travel on Howard Street between Pratt and Lombard streets.

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