Six Sites Selected for Water Tower

Owings Mills-Reisterstown Patch

Baltimore County Public Works officials presented six potential sites for a water tower to be built in the Reisterstown/Owings Mills area Thursday night at a packed meeting at Glyndon Elementary School.

“Right now, we feel comfortable that we can move forward with any of those six sites,” said Ed Adams, director of public works.

The six sites, which were narrowed down from a list of 24, are:

  • West side of Timber Grove Road at Bond Avenue
  • Corner of Associated Way and Garrison Forest Road
  • Two sites on Timber Grove Road south of Thoroughbred Lane
  • Near Insulin Lane, by the Forbush School of Glyndon
  • End of Glyndon Drive, north of Bond Avenue, adjacent to Glyndon Elementary

The tower must be built somewhere in the eastern half of Reisterstown’s Fifth Water Zone, which covers Reisterstown, Owings Mills and Glyndon, Adams said. Put simply, if there were two fires on a day in which there was high water usage, firefighters could run out of water, Adams said.

More than 160 people attended the meeting, in which public works officials, elected officials and representatives from Gannett Fleming, the firm the county hired to study the potential sites, discussed the six selected sites.

The two million-gallon water tank is needed to keep up with water demand, ensure there is enough water for fire protection and emergency situations, to better distribute water throughout the system and ensure high water quality. Because of old pipes in the system, drinking water may benefit from re-chlorination, which would occur as needed in the new water tank.

“The ultimate demand for this area has been reached as far as on paper,” said Mike Mazurek, chief of Baltimore County Department of Public Works’ water design section.

While the need was first projected in the 1960s, the water tower was placed in the county’s capital improvement plan in 2005. Money has been allocated for the project since then.

With all six sites near houses, residents were up in arms about the site selections, especially the one at Timber Grove Road and Bond Avenue, which the county owns.

“You are unwittingly making this community your victims,” said Bill Barton, president of the Sagamore Forest/Worthington Hillside Homeowners Assocation. “There’s a lot of ire here and this will not go away if site B2 is selected.” B2 is the location on Timber Grove and Bond.

A group of people who live near site B2 have mobilized against the tower's construction using a Facebook page, online petition and website. The petition includes almost 1,300 signatures and was hand delivered to county offices earlier this week.

The other 18 sites were ruled out for various reasons. Some sites did not have proper elevation, some were outside of the zone where a water tower would be most effective, some were on wetlands, some didn’t have room for the tower and others lay outside the urban-rural demarcation line (URDL), which prevents extending water and sewer lines into rural areas. The ideal elevation is 700 feet, although the county could go down to 650 feet, officials said.

The six sites that weren’t ruled out by these and other criteria were rated in terms of hydraulic suitability, residences in proximity, environmental impact, construction costs and whether or not additional right-of-ways are required. Hydraulic suitability refers to even distribution of water throughout the system.

The Timber Grove and Bond site received the top rating and was also highly rated in each category, expect for environmental impact, where it received a 3 out of 5. The second rated site was at the corner of Associated Way and Garrison Forest Road.

Several public officials, including Councilwoman Vicki Almond, Dels. Jon Cardin and Dana Stein and Sen. Bobby Zirkin, asked public works to reconsider commercial sites.

“We trust your expertise, but I don’t think any of these six sites are going to work,” Almond said.

Zirkin said he was not happy that each site selected would affect a residential area.

“Pitting a community versus another community in some form…is not an appropriate way to make a decision,” he said.

Adams said he has looked at commercial sites exhaustively but will have his team revisit them to see if any could work. He plans to have a meeting in January to update residents on the situation and hopes the community and public officials will form a small committee he can meet with.

County Executive Kevin Kamenetz assured residents that officials have not made a final decision on a site.

“The only final decision regarding a water tower…is the one that recognizes a need for a new water tank to serve this area,” he said. “And that decision was made several years ago and has been in every capital budget over the past five years.

“We want to assure you your voice is being heard and we want to make the right decision for the right reasons.”