The Water Committee focuses on three aspects of water infrastructure, critical to our future: drinking water, waste water and stormwater management.
Finding out how we handle each in Howard County from a standpoint of safety, especially in the event of natural disaster, and sustainability helps protect local resources and enables us to advocate for changes.
http://www.livegreenhoward.com has a good description under "drinking water," as follows:
Protecting and purifying our community’s fresh drinking water is one of our most vital tasks. Whether we use water to quench our thirst, wash our clothes, or bathe, it remains our greatest resource and is strictly regulated through federal and local guidelines. So set down that bottled water and go to the tap with a reusable bottle for a refill.
The drinking water available in your community is regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Bottled water, which is purchased, is regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Interestingly, the agencies do not follow the same guidelines to regulate the consumption of water. The EPA’s guidelines for community water, commonly used by residents for drinking, are far stricter than those used by the bottled water industry.
Reservoirs and Drinking Water Supply
All of Howard County public water is purchased from Baltimore City and the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) through a series of negotiated legal agreements. Under current agreements, average daily capacity from Baltimore City is 38.5 million gallons per day (mgd) and from WSSC is 3.0 mgd, for a total of 41.5 mgd. Current average daily use in the County is 22.4 mgd.
The Baltimore City Reservoirs are a major drinking water supply source for the Baltimore region and the primary source of water for the public water supply system in Howard County. (Reservoirs that Howard County draws from are Pretty Boy, Loch Raven and Liberty.-note, B. Singer)
Howard County works cooperatively with Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties, Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission, Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, Howard Soil Conservation District, and Montgomery Soil Conservation District to protect the natural resources within the Patuxent Reservoirs watershed, which supply a smaller portion of our public drinking water system.
The Little Patuxent Water Reclamation Facility has a newly-dedicated ENR or Enhanced Nutrient Removal facility in Laurel. Note: We could promulgate what is incapable of being treated (like hydraulic fracturing fluid) and why garbage disposals are so problematic (grease and oil).
A 90 page report on the Little Patuxent Water Reclamation Plant website called "Flood Mitigation Plan" has a wealth of data about geography and history of flooding in Howard County, current zoning and emergency planning programs/policies. Factoid is that the Little Patuxent Water Reclamation Plant is one of 2 critical facilities in the 100-year flood plain. The other is Lisbon Fire Station 4 in Woodbine. What happens if they flood? http://www.co.ho.md.us/departments.aspx?ID=659 Check Highlights on the right side of the website for the flood plain report.
Flood Prone areas in Howard County: Meeting on May 14, 2012 at Miller Library, From Calvin Ball's Facebook post:
To all our Howard County homeowners: FEMA has proposed new flood insurance rate maps for Howard County. These maps indicate flood prone areas in Howard County and are used by insurance agents and others to calculate appropriate flood insurance rates for buildings and their contents. A public workshop has been scheduled for Monday, May 14th 3-5pm and again 7-9pm at the Miller Library. Representatives from FEMA and the MD Department of the Environment will be on site to answer flood plain and insurance related questions. Additional information is available at http://www.howardcountymd.gov/DFIRM/htm. Residents with questions should contact the Bureau of Environmental Services at 410-313-6444.
Residential stormwater management refers to features like rain gardens, rain barrels, permeable surfaces and other techniques to get rain water to stay on the land and not pour straight into storms drains and into rivers and streams without being filtered by plants or groundcover or in a flow so strong that it causes erosion and stream degradation. Initiatives by Master Gardeners, Columbia Association, Howard County Government and concerned residents (People Acting Together in Howard/READY program, Watershed Stewards Academy) are being implemented in Howard County.
The need for comprehensive stormwater management is defined in the Howard County Water Implementation Plan (WIP) http://www.mde.state.md.us/programs/Water/TMDL/TMDLImplementation/Documents/DRAFT_PhaseII_Report_Docs/County_Docs/Howard_DraftPhIIWIP.pdf
“Howard County has been tasked by the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) to build on the initiative begun with the Phase I Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP) for the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) and prepare Howard County specific input to the Phase II WIP. This input will be used to aid MDE’s development of a statewide Phase II WIP for submission to EPA. This document outlines the development process and provides guidance on Howard County’s future efforts in support of achieving the nutrient load reductions needed to achieve the Chesapeake Bay TMDL.
All involved recognize that meeting the Bay TMDL is a significant task that will require stepping up current efforts towards that end. We also recognize that this is a continually changing process, especially with regards to the resources and technologies available, as well as improvements in the Bay Model used to quantify the improvements.
This Plan presents a staff level description of the efforts Howard County can put forth towards meeting the Chesapeake Bay TMDL.”
The "WIP II" was recently submitted by Howard County and will soon be posted on the Howard County website.