Press Release

BALTIMORE, MD (July 8, 2004) – Maryland’s Secretary of the Environment has imposed a moratorium on the issuance of new building permits in Middletown until the town develops a plan to ensure an adequate supply of drinking water to support existing and proposed development.

“Although rainfall has returned to above-normal levels and water is abundant right now, the 2002 drought reminded us of the importance of a reliable water supply,” said Kendl P. Philbrick, secretary of the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE). “This temporary halt in construction will allow MDE and Middletown to review the situation carefully to ensure that Middletown residents have enough water in future droughts.”

Philbrick said that MDE will work with town leaders to develop a legally binding consent agreement that ensures that there is enough water to supply future development in the town.

MDE’s analysis of data submitted by the town indicates that Middletown has over-committed its available water supply. The town’s permitted water capacity is 290,000 gallons per day (GPD). But the 1,297 residential units currently served by the water system require 324,250 GPD – a 34,250 GPD deficit – and the 44 building permits recently issued by the town will further increase both demand and the town’s water deficit.

In a June 29 letter to John Miller, the Middletown burgess, Philbrick said the moratorium would remain in place until the town’s permitted water capacity reaches 250 gallons per day per household for existing connections and prior plated lots, plus a 10 percent reserve.

Under Maryland law, building permits may not be issued unless the water supply is adequate to serve the proposed construction (Annotated Code of Maryland, Environment Article, §9-512).

Since July 2002, MDE has repeatedly urged Middletown to increase its capacity to cover permits already issued and to cease the issuance of additional permits until an adequate new water source is identified. Middletown has continued to issue permits without demonstrating additional capacity.

Philbrick’s letter also notified the town that MDE would not approve the town’s proposed updates of its water and sewer master plan recently submitted for review by MDE. The plan cannot take effect without MDE approval.

In his letter, the secretary noted that the new plan proposed by the town would limit planning input from Frederick County. “Based on the town’s past response to guidance offered by MDE, there is considerable doubt that its water supply system will be better managed under the updated plan,” Philbrick wrote.


The letter accompanies this news release.