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After delays, $2.1M Westminster stormwater project moves forward with commissioners’ approval

A new stormwater pond in Westminster that has been years in the making is planned to be complete in 2020 after the county commissioners recently approved $2.1 million in funding for the project.

The Board of County Commissioners last Thursday approved about $1.69 million for construction, about $340,800 for dirt handling and up to $91,520 for construction management services, in three separate bids. The funding was provided for in the county’s budget, according to the meeting agenda.

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The Langdon stormwater management pond, which will be located off George Street, will provide water quality treatment for a drainage area of 200 acres in Westminster, according to Tom Devilbiss, county director of land and resource management. He said in an email the plan is to finish the project by the end of this year.

“This project has been in the planning, design and permitting stages since 2014," Devilbiss said. "It has been quite an adventure and journey for our staff. It is probably one of the largest, most complex projects we have done.”

Carroll County received “extensive” grant funding through the Maryland State Highway Administration for the project, and as a result the review process took a while, as “they do a little extra scrutiny,” Devilbiss told the commissioners.

The county was given two separate grants for the project, Devilbiss wrote in an email, one for $900,000 from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and another from SHA for just under $980,000.

In August, the commissioners approved a preliminary step to remove dirt from the site by railroad in order to make way for the pond. The $562,400 contract paid for the Maryland Midland Railroad to haul about 75,000 cubic yards of dirt from Westminster to New Windsor. Once the dirt is gone, a pond will be built to serve as a stormwater management facility.

In August, Chris Heyn — then a watershed restoration engineer for the county and now bureau chief of resource management — explained how the pond will manage stormwater. Much of the city’s stormwater already drains to the area where the pond will be, and by building a pond, pollutants in the water will settle to the bottom of the pond and then clean water will drain into Little Pipe Creek, Heyn said then.

The pond is being built because the county Bureau of Resource Management holds a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit with the Maryland Department of the Environment that requires the county to build a stormwater management facility where there is no stormwater treatment, Heyn said in August.

Although Carroll County is in a legal dispute with MDE over its 2014 permit — appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court, which has not yet decided to take the case — the Langdon project will not be affected by the outcome of that case, according to Devilbiss. The Langdon project is part of the county’s current compliance requirements, Devilbiss wrote in an email, and the court case could affect future stormwater management projects.

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As Devilbiss and Heyn presented the three bids of the Langdon project Thursday, Commissioner Stephen Wantz, R-District 1, pointed out that the city of Westminster might have had to pay for the project if not for the county’s involvement. The municipalities and county are co-permittees on the NPDES permit, according to Devilbiss, meaning they work together jointly to meet the requirements of the permit.

“Had we not done that process, the individual municipalities would have been responsible for doing stormwater mitigations within their jurisdictions," Devilbiss said, referring to the agreement to be co-permittees.

“Without us, they’d be in a pickle. Let’s be clear,” Wantz added.

The commissioners voted 4-0 to approve the bids for the Langdon project, though Commissioner Richard Weaver, R-District 2, was absent. Highland Turf Inc. will construct the facility, which includes creating new drainage structures, according to a county memo. Stambaugh’s Inc. will handle the fill material, or dirt, that comes from the construction of the pond. Finally, A. Morton Thomas will provide construction oversight on an as-needed basis, the cost of which will not exceed $91,520.

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