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Jack Lynch, Editor
January 1, 2005
Even given the Potomac pipeline, and likely water allocations from LaFarge Quarry and extra allocation from Fort Detrick on a temporary basis, there will still be a need to identify and plan for longer term sources of water supply. Recent power plant development efforts have resulted in a number of proposed locations for water impoundments, the state reviewed over two hundred possible sites and proposed that about twenty might be viable for use. Now the City is interested in planning a reservoir.
One possible scenario involves an expanded holding capacity from the Frederick mountain watershed and Fishing Creek. This is probably viewed as penny wise, since the City already has that land set aside for water supply purposes. But that scenario is pound foolish. If we are to develop a reservoir, it should come with additional long term benefits to the public and water quality efforts and recreational opportunities.
An alternate reservoir location could yield enormous land preservation and reforestation benefits. One potential site would be developing a second Linganore reservoir. The County is preparing a plan to protect land and develop reforestation there, and the City already has the pipeline routing and treatment capacity at the Monocacy water treatment plant.
One idea that should be quickly discarded would be any thought of damming the Monocacy River. It would create a tremendous backlash. Residents rose in opposition to the Sixes Bridge Dam, and successfully shut the idea down for thirty-five years, until the major drought of 2002. Today, it is likely that up-county interests are stronger and even more oppositional to any such dam proposal. The Monocacy was designated a state scenic river in order to halt the dam concept. While some of the heroes of that public battle have died in recent years, there are many folks who fondly remember their struggle and what great public good they achieved locally.
It takes years to develop a new reservoir, and the environmental concerns and requirements are much greater. Any impoundment project would require a great appreciation for the watershed recharge and protection features.
One great fact about the Monocacy River, then and now, is that it flows freely and with little impact from developments and infrastructure along its long course through the county. If we can continue to keep it that way, we will all continue to benefit in the future. The County Commissioners recently approved the Citizens Zoning Review Committee recommendations on environmental land use, which includes a protective ordinance, a development setback from the Monocacy river.
There are reasons to cheer in Frederick County, and growing forces for a renewed compromise with environmental matters. A new reservoir can become a public treasure and restore some of our land area from farm to forests. We need a better balance between growth and environmental quality, water supply presents an opportunity and a need to change course.