Golf course thirsts for additional water Hearing tomorrow on Wakefield's plea CENTRAL--Union Mills * Westminster * Sandymount * Finksburg


A request to draw tens of thousands of gallons of additional water from Wakefield Valley for use at a Westminster golf course will be discussed at a public hearing tomorrow.

The owner of the Wakefield Valley Golf Club has asked the state for permits to drill new wells and pump an average of 178,000 gallons of ground water per day, according to Maryland's Water Resources Administration.

Under Wakefield's request, the amount of ground water would increase to 495,000 gallons per day in times of maximum use, typically the summer months. The golf course wants more water for irrigation, watering fairways and greens, filling ponds and for the clubhouse and maintenance facility.

"We're asking for what would meet our needs for water," said Hank Majewski, owner of the 277-acre golf course. "The city let the golf course be built and never appropriated enough water to accommodate the golf course."

The informational hearing will be held at 7 p.m. at Westminster City Hall. The state will reject, approve or modify the request with conditions. A decision will not be made tomorrow.

Mr. Majewski's request comes at the same time Westminster has asked the state for permission to pump an additional 350,000 gallons of water from two city-owned wells in the Wakefield Valley. A hearing on that request has not been set yet.

The city now has a permit to pump up to 150,000 gallons of water per day from the two wells, said Tom B. Beyard, the city's director of public works and planning. The additional water is needed as part of the city's efforts to maximize existing facilities and meet future needs.

The two wells are satellite water supplies for the city, serving Avondale Run, Carroll Lutheran Village and other residents in Wakefield Valley. The city eventually wants to connect the wells to a water treatment facility to enhance Westminster's overall water supply.

Mr. Beyard said Westminster doesn't dispute the golf course's need for more water but has concerns about increased use during dry months.

"Most times of the year more water wouldn't be a problem for the golf course or the city," Mr. Beyard said. "But in the dry months, how do we allocate water? That's the area of our concern. The water supply for the city of Westminster is first and foremost for citizens."

Mr. Beyard said Westminster has been working with Mr. Majewski and state water officials to resolve any concerns about the water requests.

"We've been trying to come up with a solution the state would accept in the summer months," he said. "If there's enough water to go around, then it's not a problem. We've come up with some specific suggestions for dry months."

For instance, he said, if the water level of a stream that flows through the golf course falls below a certain point, water use would be limited. Or if a water emergency is declared by the state, mandatory controls would be imposed allowing water for basic needs only, he said.

"It's one of those things that during lots of months water isn't a problem," Mr. Beyard said. "But outdoor watering in the summer could use a couple hundred thousand gallons a day. For us not to do everything possible to protect our water would be a poor thing for us to do."

Unlike Baltimore or other areas, Westminster doesn't have large rivers or reservoirs to tap into and must rely on ground water.

"Our salvation in the short time is ground water," Mr. Beyard said. "It is of prime importance to us. If someone else can draw water and it doesn't cause problems, so be it. But to just turn our head and not be involved would be incorrect. It's something we've followed very closely."

The golf course has a permit to draw 11,000 gallons of water a day from a well on its property to supply a maintenance building and the old clubhouse. The new clubhouse is served with drinkable water from the city's water system, Westminster officials said.

The golf course was built in the 1970s. Mr. Majewski purchased the facility and expanded the course in 1983.

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