A recent report of the Bi-Country Water Supply Task Force urges Montgomery and Prince George's counties to:
Build as soon as possible a 458-acre, 3-billion gallon lake reservoir proposed on a site in the Montgomery County community of Boyds;
Draw up design plans for a crosscounty pipeline linking the Potomac River water treatment plant, mainly serving Montgomery County, with the Patuxent River treatment facilities, which serve Prince George's County.
The task force, which worked for two years on the report, was chaired by Montgomery County Council Member John Menke and Prince George's County Council Member William Amonett.
Boyds residents have supported the lake in theory but rejected the proposed master plan version because it calls for extensive recreational facilities accompanying the lake. The lake, which would cost about $20 million to construct, will be used in noncritical times for flood control and recreation, Menke said.
The lake reserves would be called on only occasionally, possibly once every 15 years, according to Menke. "The Potomac, roughly speaking, every decade will not have enough water for people to pull out for one day all over the area,"
The pipeline project, which has been estimated to cost $48 million to $80 million, would link the water plants so emergency water reserves would be available. "The pipeline connects the two treatment plants, so you don't have Potomac water in the Patuxent River" or vice-versa, said Amonett.
In a case of one river being contaminated, water from the other river could be pumped to the plant on the contaminated river, and the two waters would never mix.
"It doesn't have to be built tomorrow," Amonett said, "but I think it's important to get the reservations and the right-of-way now for the project. Amonett speculated that Montgomery County already may own much of the land needed for the 20-mile pipeline.
Montgomery County's Menke, on the other hand, said, "I oppose the pipeline as a prime reliance solution." Menke said the pipeline would be of assistance in some situations where water treatment equipment is damaged, and supplies from a reservoir, such as the proposed lake, could not be pumped anyway.$"But those kinds of accidents are not going to happen regularly, anyway," said Menke, referring to last summer's water supply crisis caused by a fire in the Potomac pumping plant as a rare event. "The price of the pipeline is obviously not worth it."
Public hearings on the report will be held in both counties in May. The, each county's council will hold work sessions and decide whether to adopt the proposals. Both counties will have to agree before the plan can be implemented.