Public Safety plans for 30k gallon water tank in Pleasant Valley area for fire protection

As the Department of Public Safety nears the finish line on a water tank in Eldersburg for fire protection, it is seeking the go-ahead from the Board of County Commissioners for its next project: a 30,000-gallon water tank at the North Carroll Community School.

The water tank would be stored underground to serve the Pleasant Valley region, which is not currently covered by a public water distribution system.

“The vast majority of Carroll County is not served by public water,” Public Safety Director Scott Campbell said this week. “There isn’t a fire hydrant available for fires. In some places not served by fire hydrants, there are draft sites or water from a pond ... those can [also] be used to fight fires.

“But there is still a significant part [of Carroll] that isn’t close to any water supply.”

The Pleasant Valley volunteer fire company currently mitigates that hurdle by keeping its tanks full of water from whatever sources are available, according to Public Information Officer Charles Simpson, and using equipment that is suitable for rural water supplies.

“There’s a lot of ponds throughout the district that we have permission from various property owners [to use] as long as we can get access to them,” Simpson said. “Most certainly in soft ground — because of heavy rains — access might be an issue, and in the wintertime access can be an issue. But we try to meet those challenges, surmount the water problems and face the challenges by the equipment we have.

“Pleasant Valley fire department has a tanker truck that carries a significant supply of water,” he said, “and we have special [equipment] purchased just to be able to get into those difficult pond locations and be able to draft water.”

Campbell, also a volunteer firefighter of 30 years, said in cases where there are no chances for natural water or public water expansion, like the Pleasant Valley region, the only other recourse is to establish man-made facilities: underground water tanks.

There is already funding in the county’s approved budget for the project — which follows the water tank projects on Heath Drive in Eldersburg, on Cherrytown Road off of Md. 97 north of Westminster, and in Harney — and it has been met with support from both the Pleasant Valley volunteer fire company and the North Carroll Community School, located on Stone Road just off Md. 97.

Carroll’s Board of County Commissioners will review the proposal at its weekly meeting on Thursday, June 14. If the proposal is approved, the Department of Public Safety will be able to nail down its $119,500 contract with Stambaugh’s Inc., a construction company based in Union Bridge.

“It’s a phenomenal tool and resource,” Campbell said. “We are very careful. We wouldn’t put [water tanks] somewhere where there’s expected expansion of a public water source in the near future.”

Simpson said also that if approved. the new tank would be a more reliable and cleaner source of water than is available in some cases.

“Having that tank is something that you can just connect to very easily,” he said, “just like hooking your hose up to a spigot at home. It’s much quicker and it’s right there, and you know you’ve got 30,000 gallons of clean water as opposed to trying to get close to a pond, putting the suction sleeves out into a pond to draw water out of the pond, and making sure you're not drawing dirt and mud and sediment.”

And the several months it might take to install would be the only time locals would experience any inconvenience because of the tank, Campbell said, because it is totally hidden once the process is complete.

“While it’s being installed, it is somewhat impressive and intimidating. But once it’s in the ground [and] back-filled ... there’s no way someone could look at it and envision there’s a very large 30,000-gallon vessel underground.”

Plus, he said, “it’s absolutely harmless to the environment. It stores nonpotable water; it’s no more harmful than the rain water. So [if], God forbid, something happened to one of these vessels, we basically only have water leaking into the ground — no chemicals or pesticides or anything.”

The Public Safety Department continues to look out for future water supply facility sites, Campbell said, but it is a combination of support from local fire companies, the generosity of landowners and the viability of a potential site that gets a plan off the ground.

And although there are no other developed plans for fire protection water supply facilities at this time, the director said the process has proven successful so far and his department will continue working toward providing water for the underserved parts of the county.

“One of the very first iterations of this was a pair of 20,000-gallon tanks installed at the Gamber fire station,” Campbell said. “Downtown Gamber is one of those places you don't expect public water, so [they don’t have to go too far to] shuttle water to and from a fire scene. There’s all kinds of wonderful benefits, and the commissioners came through and funded this.

“In my very humble opinion, “I think it’s money that’s extremely well spent and obviously worth the investment.”

More information on the upcoming Board of County Commissioners meeting, including the agenda, can be found at the Carroll County government website, www.ccgovernment.carr.org/ccg .

jennifer.turiano@carrollcountytimes.com

410-857-7898

twitter.com/jturianoCCT

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