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U.S. engineers doubt need for 2nd reservoir in South Carroll


In a meeting with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers yesterday, county officials received little encouragement for their 20-year- old proposal to build Gillis Falls Reservoir as a water source for South Carroll.

The reservoir would be the second in South Carroll - the county's fastest-growing area - and would be built on 1,200 hilly acres that the county owns in Woodbine near Mount Airy. The other is Piney Run near Eldersburg.

"In any good water supply management plan, multiple sources are a must," said James Slater, Carroll's environmental compliance specialist. "We must keep looking for sources while managing what we have."

But, the corps and state administrators attending the session seemed adamant that little need exists for another reservoir.

"You have to establish need, and we would evaluate all alternatives," said Phil Cwiek, project manager for the corps, which must approve all reservoir applications. "We recommend what has the least damaging impact on the environment. If another practical alternative matches the need, that is what we go with."

South Carroll relies on Liberty Reservoir to fulfill its water needs - as much as 3 million gallons a day. The 45-billion-gallon lake, owned by Baltimore, supplies Eldersburg, Sykesville and nearly 2 million people in the metropolitan area.

Carroll is planning a water treatment plant on Piney Run Reservoir to supplement the supply. That project could push plans for Gillis Falls, which would entail flooding about 190 acres, decades into the future, officials said.

The corps has denied several applications for reservoirs in the past several years. None is under construction now.

Crisscrossed by several potential feeder streams, the site seemed ideal for a reservoir when the county began amassing land in the 1970s.

Rather than have the reservoir denied, the county withdrew its application 10 years ago.

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