Governor’s Press Release

BALTIMORE (December 11, 1997) -- The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) has denied an application by the Fairfax County Water Authority (FCWA) to extend a water intake pipeline into the Potomac River from Lowes Island, Virginia.

FCWA had requested to construct a 600 to 725-foot extension to the existing intake from the shoreline on the Virginia side of the river.

"Based on the evidence submitted, the department believes the general public interest would be best served by avoiding impacts to the Potomac River from the installation of the proposed intake," said J.L. Hearn, Director of MDE's Water Management Administration.

In its notice of permit decision to FCWA, MDE said that the public need for a safe and adequate supply of drinking water may be reasonably accomplished using the existing intake on the Virginia shore of the Potomac River.

The summary in the notice also indicated that significant concerns were raised on a variety of environmental and water management issues. According to Hearn, the permit was denied because FCWA failed to provide evidence that extending the outfall would provide substantially improved water quality, or that an intake structure of 600 to 725 feet is needed. MDE further noted that the project would not enhance water quality, or promote wise use of the resource. The department determined that the project would be wasteful and detrimental to the public interest.

FCWA has the right to appeal this decision. FCWA also has the right to reapply for approval of a modified project. MDE has advised FCWA that it would be prudent to await publication of the U.S. Geological Survey's Potomac River National Water Quality Assessment results and the results from the Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin's basin-wide water study.