Pumping an average of 432,000 gallons a water a day from wells on Black & Decker (U.S.) Inc.'s Hampstead site could jeopardize the town's water supply, says a government hydrogeologist.
Tom Devilbiss, hydrogeologist with the Carroll County Bureau of Water Resource Management, wrote July 15 to Terrance W. Clark, chief of the Water Rights Division of the state Department of Natural Resources, that he considered the company's request excessive.
"It's our opinion that the aquifer is potentially incapable of supporting the proposed level of appropriation based on the current usage in the area, especially during drought periods," he wrote.
Mr. Devilbiss suggested that the pumping, which is planned as part of a ground-water cleanup project, begin "at a much reduced level," and that wells off the site be used to monitor the effect on the aquifer.
His comments echoed those of Michael D. Haufler of R. E. Wright Associates Inc., a water consultanting firm hired by the town of Hampstead, who wrote to Mr. Clark June 28 expressing similar concerns.
"The request . . . is clearly unjustified, not well supported, and unreasonable," Mr. Haufler wrote to Mr. Clark.
Black & Decker has requested permission from the state Water Rights Division to pump an average of 432,000 gallons a day -- and a maximum of 720,000 gallons a day in the month of highest use -- from 10 wells on land it owns adjacent to Hampstead.
The pumping is intended to prevent contaminated ground water under the site from spreading.
The company proposes that water pumped from the ground will be cleaned and discharged through a holding pond and nearby stream.
Mr. Devilbiss and Mr. Haufler both said they supported the cleanup effort.
However, Mr. Devilbiss wrote that water supplies to several of Hampstead's town wells could be decreased by the level of pumping requested, "thus jeopardizing the long-term viability of the supply."
Also, he wrote, Black & Decker has said the project could cause a drawdown of about 8 feet in the water table in areas bordering the site.
That could jeopardize water supplies to private wells belonging to homes and businesses in the area of Route 30 and Hampshire Avenue, he wrote.
Mr. Devilbiss said caution should be taken to make sure that the pumping does not decrease the flow of water in Deep Run, a nearby stream.
Mr. Haufler wrote that tests conducted while the project was being planned were too short to measure the impact of the proposed pumping. He said ground-water recharge rates were not given adequate consideration in the project's design.
He said the project could be turned into "a win-win situation" for Black & Decker and its neighbors if the company reduced its pumping request, perhaps to 200,000 gallons a day on average, and 300,000 gallons a day in the month of maximum use.
"This will not only allow the tests of reasonableness to be met, but could save Black and Decker large treatment-plant capital and operating expenses," Mr. Haufler wrote.
In response, Linda Biagioni, vice president for environmental affairs at the Towson office of Black & Decker Co., said yesterday, "We have to share this with our consultants."
She added, "Black & Decker has no desire to pump any more water than we absolutely have to. . . . We'll present it to them."