IT IS an old idea whose time has come. Develop Piney Run Lake as a water source for thirsty, growing South Carroll.
The plan has been around for years. It was developed as a design project a half-dozen years ago. It was always put aside because of cost considerations, and because other sources seemed readily available.
With mammoth Liberty Reservoir nearby, there was little reason to consider building a new treatment plant. As Freedom District grew by leaps and bounds, tripling over the past quarter-century, the need increased.
But when the Piney Run plan resurfaced in the '90s, it was judged too costly. Wells were seen as the immediate answer.
But state permission for wells is withheld because of differences with the county over land-use planning, and a similar dispute with Baltimore on the Liberty Reservoir watershed blocks approval of Carroll drawing more water from that city-owned basin.
Even if those political differences are satisfactorily resolved, the county faces a major new expense in meeting the increased demand for water for a South Carroll that continues to expand. Either the Freedom treatment plant (for Liberty water) must double capacity, or sufficient additional water supply must be drawn from wells built along Route 32, with extra pipeline costs.
Piney Run makes eminent sense because Carroll owns that extensive water supply and could more easily pressure the state to give needed permits.
Preliminary cost figures show the Piney Run solution, at about $14 million, would be equivalent to expanding the 30-year-old Freedom plant capacity, especially as Baltimore raises its price for raw reservoir water.
The county commissioners will get more detailed cost estimates this month. But Piney Run now seems like a water-tight solution.