Carroll County's proposed water resource management ordinance is too strict and could harm efforts to bring businesses to the county, says a member of the county Economic Development Commission.
The proposal, which is still in the development stage, would regulate any use of chemicals or other practice that could make drinking water unusable, county Bureau of Water Resource Management chief Catherine Rappe told the commission Wednesday.
"The [Environmental Protection Agency] spends years studying things and then sets certain standards," said David Roush, plant manager for Lehigh Portland Cement Co. in Uniontown.
State and county jurisdictions then set more stringent standards
to "feel like [they're] doing [their] jobs," he said.
A group of commission members, led by Mr. Roush, plans to meet with Ms. Rappe and make suggestions before the final version is presented to the county commissioners.
"The concern I have from an economic development standpoint is that if the county decides to become more restrictive, industry will go to West Virginia or Pennsylvania or somewhere else where they've decided to accept the federal standards," Mr. Roush said.
Other members echoed his views.
In response, Ms. Rappe said county regulations will not duplicate federal or state laws.
, "A much lower amount of chem
icals than those regulations allow will render water unusable," said Ms. Rappe, alluding to two instances in the county where companies complied with federal and state discharge regulations, but still made drinking water in their areas unsafe.
"This ordinance will try to fill in the gap," she said.
Manchester Town Manager Terry Short agreed, saying that Carroll County has a more fragile water supply than most other areas.
"You will completely destroy economic development if you destroy the water supply," he said. "The bottom line is that business pays the bill."
Mr. Short said that if businesses do not spend money to make sure water supplies are protected, they
will have to pay higher salaries so their employees can pay the higher water rates required to clean it.
"We have to balance for business at both ends," he said.
Westminster farmer Donald Essich suggested businesses take the sort of approach the agricultural community has taken.
Carroll County farmers have met with Ms. Rappe and agreed to regulate themselves, he said. However, if the nitrogen runoff from farms is not controlled, the county will begin applying the proposed ordinance to agriculture.
"Cathy agreed with us that there is enough regulation going on in many ways," he said. "We . . . are voluntarily trying to do something, because if after a period of time we don't control what we are accused of putting into the streams, the state is going to mandate something."