Water Supply System: Maryland

Maryland is one of the states in the larger United States of America. It is situated in the mid-Atlantic region and is bordered to the south and west with West Virginia and District of Columbia; to the north with Pennsylvania and the west is Delaware (FindArticles.com). Based on the findings of the United States Bureau, the state scored the highest in terms of average household income at $70,545 median (FindArticles.com). The state has a technical advisory committee that monitors all water supply-related issues and infrastructure. Many public water systems in the state require upgrading due to their inability to meet the rising water demand within the state. Existing plan focuses on addressing fundamental issues within the water supply system including system capacity to meet needs during droughts spells, inflated amount of unaccounted-for water in the flow systems, consumer conservation initiative (Linaweaver 3). Its geology varies. The eastern and central regions have plenty of aquifers.

In general, its water resources vary greatly. There are 516 water systems serving the community. Out of these, 59 depend on surface water sources from following rivers and lakes: river Youghiogheny, Monocacy River, Nanticoke River, Chester River, Pocomoke River, Potomac River, Patuxent River, River Choptank River, Deep Creek Lake, Prettyboy Reservoir Liberty Lake, Triadelphia Reservoir and Loch Raven Reservoir while 457 source their water from groundwater (Linaweaver 4). There are two major water supplies in the state, namely: Washington sub-urban sanitary Commission abbreviated as WSSC and City of Baltimore. The two however, primarily rely on surface water to service their clients. The bulk of Maryland’s population relies on surface water for its daily operations (Linaweaver 4). Groundwater use is however, more pronounced in the rural areas where they are the primary water sources. Homeowners have additionally resorted to using individual wells. Due to education and awareness on appropriate usage of water in Maryland, the average citizen has tended to use 100gallons per day resulting in 36000 gallons per year per person.

Delivery of water into households and other areas of need within the country is done via pumping stations (major pumping stations are in red).

Maryland’s daily water consumption and consequently has been on the rise every year in tandem with rising demand for water. Though Maryland’s Department of Environment (MDE) does most of the water supply and treatment information gathering, it liaises with local stakeholders, neighboring states and federal states in ensuring that service delivery is kept at par with demand (American Water 23). Developing such partnerships ensured that where demand shortfalls come in on the part of MDE, the other stakeholders can come in and supplement. Additionally, its liaison with adjacent states involves sharing of information regarding rivers crossing boundaries in order to allow assessment and treatment of the water from these sources. Potomac and Susquehanna rivers provide increased challenges to the department’s assessment program. Potomac for instance, moves across a number of states including West Virginia, Maryland, and Virginia (Linaweaver 7). The states mainly rely on surface water from the river for a significant part of their population. Maryland, itself has seven water supplies that draw water from this river directly. Susquehanna River presents another set of challenges with two intake points located and Conowingo and five treatment plants operating in areas below the dam. Given only 5% of the river is in Maryland, inter-state consultation to facilitate meaningful assessment is mandatory (Linaweaver 12). The quality of water and its regulation is primarily the responsibility of health and hygiene department. They issue permits to those intending to supply water, and monitor the quality of water they supply to consumers through a continuous assessment program.

While MDE provides vast information from the assessment they conduct, most of the water treatment is done by regional and local water supplies within the state. Water Treatment criteria involve coagulation, settling and ultimately filtration (American Water 1). Corrosion is often controlled with the help of an inhibitor, while dental cavity is limited through fluoridation process. The process is subject to continuous monitoring. However, not all treatment efforts are undertaken at the treatment plant of the supply companies. Groundwater most wells are treatment at the site based on information presented by MDE with regard to wells in that area. More specifically, arsenic treatment is conducted on individual wells to eliminate chemicals that are not good for human consumption (American Water 4). Groundwater contains Arsenic naturally. This is because of dissolution of minerals from weathered rocks. In the affected area, water pumped from wells has this element and it must therefore be eliminated (American Water 6). Data from MDE indicate that high concentrations of this element are found in Maryland’s coastal province. Additionally, Maryland’s geological services department confirmed existence of significant amount of this element in wells situated in Calvert, Caroline, Queen Anne’s, and Talbot among other areas (Linaweaver 13)

The suppliers do pressurization of systems to deliver water from pump stations. The red balloons seen in the supply map indicate the areas where major pumping stations are located. The pumps provide the pressure necessary to drive the water into the piping system and down to the consumers. The pressure required to transmit water therefore is generated with the help of electricity-powered high-pressure pump systems. The piping system of water in the state is more parallel in nature. Various regions are served by different water companies, which run parallel water networks. Water supply is therefore clustered into regions (Linaweaver 13). However all the supply companies reported to the MDE within three-month intervals and in instances where they develop findings that might interest MDE.

Hydrant is assembly of system that withdraws water from a water source by suctioning. It is a source of pressurized water provided by the municipality to enable quick response to fire fighting in urban and suburban areas. There are wet and dry barrel hydrants. The main difference between wet and dry hydrants is that an individual can control all the outlets in the wet hydrant while dry hydrant outlets are controlled simultaneously by one stem. Hydrants are usually colored differently to enable the firefighters to make quick identifications in relation to availability of water when in operation. Hydrants nozzles painted light blue, green, orange and red working within range of1500gpm ,1000-1499 gpm, (500-999gpm) and (0-499gpm)are classified as Class AA,A,B and C respectively. The main hydrant type used in the state is Humat-4-way hydrant valve (Linaweaver 23). Its usage is attributed to its ability to acquire maximum water from fire ground within the least possible time. Its valves are made of lightweight aluminum making it easy to handle them. The actual numbers however, are unknown (Linaweaver 23). Another source of water for fire fighting is the fireplug. These are large holes constructed within the urban and the rural areas, filled with water to form a temporary wall. In case of any fire outbreak, the water would be filled into the bucket brigades, transported or hand-pumped to the emergency areas. The fireplug locations are usually marked with a wooden board painted red for easy identifications. There is also non-pressurized dry hydrant which has one pipe fitted below the water level and the other pipe above the ground level. This water is tapped and pressurized by the fire engine to the emergency area. According to the Linaweaver 33, it is reported that Maryland has a total of 419 dry hydrant sites distributed on the county basis.

In conclusion, it is important to note that water supply in the state is not centralized. Various water supply companies apply through the NDE and after vetting their applications are approved to supply water to a given region. All approved supplies are charged with a responsibility of providing clean and safe drinking water to its clients. Based on information compiled and distributed by MDE, the supplies are expected to appropriately treat the water they supply before releasing it to the consumer. Decentralization was adopted as the best possible way of reaching out to all intended consumers within the state (Linaweaver 26). The piping network is however, supplemented with the wells, which are widely used by homeowners. They too obtain information from the MDE, which they used in treating water from their wells.

Maryland water supply map
Figure 1: Maryland water supply map.

Works cited

American Water. “Water Quality Report: Maryland Annual Report”. Official website of the State of Maryland, 2009.

FindArticles.com. the Daily Record. “Maryland’s quality of life ranks high compared to other states”. (Baltimore). 2004. Web.

Linaweaver, P. “Maryland technical advisory committee on water supply infrastructure” Maryland: Baltimore, 2008.