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Maryland Department of the Environment

Maryland drinking water project receives national honor for excellence in problem solving 

U.S. EPA recognizes Maryland American Water for improvements to drinking water system serving Bel Air in Harford County; project addressed problems cited by Maryland Department of the Environment, received funding through the state agency

BALTIMORE (March 3, 2022) – A project that addressed concerns cited by the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) at a drinking water facility that serves a town in Harford County has been honored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Maryland American Water’s improvements to the Winters Run drinking water treatment facility in Harford County was one of only five drinking water projects honored by EPA as part of its AQUARIUS and PISCES awards program. The Winters Run project – honored for “excellence in problem solving” – addressed concerns, cited by MDE, about the facility’s effect on the flow of the stream that provides raw water and its ability to provide customers in the Town of Bel Air with water in a drought or emergency.
MDE worked with Maryland American Water, officials from Bel Air and Harford County, and the local health department, providing technical input and innovative use of funding to ensure the project’s successful completion. Maryland American Water received $3.8 million in Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) assistance, administered in Maryland by MDE, for improvements to allow it to provide a reliable water supply to customers in Bel Air. The project also provided environmental benefits to Winters Run through stabilization of its stream banks.
“This innovative project shows the value of public and private partnerships to solve problems and protect the health and well-being of Marylanders,” said Maryland Environment Secretary Ben Grumbles. “MDE congratulates Maryland American Water for this award and for the work the company has done to protect the Winters Run ecosystem while providing the Town of Bel Air with a sustainable supply of drinking water.”
“We are honored to have been nationally recognized by the AQUARIUS program. Working with the Maryland Department of the Environment, we were able to provide an innovative solution to the water supply issues facing the Town of Bel Air. The intake project is an example of exceptional results from collaborative efforts,” said Barry Suits, President, Maryland American Water. “With assistance from the DWSRF, we implemented a sustainable option to meet the community’s water needs for generations while mitigating the cost impact of the project on our customers.”
The Winters Run project was among those honored by EPA during a recent virtual roundtable. MDE nominated the project for the federal agency’s annual Aquarius and Pisces awards for excellence and innovation within the Clean Water State Revolving Fund and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund programs.
Maryland American Water owns and operates the water system serving Bel Air. The system consists of the Winters Run Water Treatment Plant, which primarily treats water from Winters Run and two wells, with a purchasing agreement with Harford County to supplement its supply. To protect aquatic life, MDE’s water appropriation permit for Maryland American Water requires the company to regulate its withdrawal from Winters Run so that it does not decrease the flow downstream below a prescribed rate. As a result, the plant could not withdraw enough water to meet the average and maximum demand. Through a consent agreement, the company was prompted by the state and the county to provide long-term solutions to potential water supply deficits during a drought.
The first phase of the project entailed the construction of a 90 million gallon reservoir. The next phase modified the water plant intake and pumping system to allow it to fill the reservoir when stream flow is high and, when stream flow is low, withdraw water from the reservoir. The second phase was completely funded through DWSRF funding administered by MDE. Construction was completed in 2019.
EPA’s AQUARIUS Recognition Program 2021 Project Compendium states: “This DWSRF project addressed competing goals: meeting flow-by requirements and protecting downstream aquatic life, while also ensuring there is enough water to meet customer needs.” 


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