Maryland Agency, Westminster Sign Agreement to Protect City's Water Supply

On April 3, the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) and the city of Westminster signed a consent order for a cooperative and comprehensive approach to address the city's water supply needs at the same time that it ensures the protection of the state's water resources.

"The droughts of 1999 and 2002 highlighted the need to fully evaluate water system capacities, as many sources in Central Maryland, including Westminster's, were unable to meet public water demand without seriously impacting the natural resources that also depend upon that water," said MDE Deputy Secretary Robert M. Summers. "MDE applauds the cooperative approach that Mayor Thomas K. Ferguson and the city council are taking to address the current situation in a manner that is environmentally protective. ... Continued protection of the environment requires that we are able to support smart growth and meet the needs of our citizens living in areas served by state-of-the-art water and wastewater infrastructure."

The city followed MDE's recently issued capacity management guidelines and performed a comprehensive analysis of the water system's demand and capacity under drought of record conditions, which showed a significant deficit would occur, state officials said. MDE, with the cooperation of the Carroll County Health Department, delayed approval of any new development that would increase the water system demand until the consent order was signed to ensure appropriate protection of public health and the environment when the next drought occurs.

According to state officials, the consent order:

  • provides the necessary framework to resolve the drought year deficit.
  • requires a schedule for meeting both short- and long-term water supply needs (the Medford Quarry pipeline will address the city's short-term needs).
  • establishes a timeline for completing plans (water loss reduction and conservation plans) to better manage the existing system's capacity.
  • ensures that an interim contingency plan is in place to address drought conditions.
  • modifies operating conditions of the city's surface water withdrawal permit under drought conditions.
  • grants a limited water quantity for planned development.

For more information, contact MDE at http://www.mde.state.md.us.

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