Planning for Bel Air's Future

impoundment rendering

Providing high-quality, reliable water service is our business. That’s why we’re developing a sustainable water supply solution that addresses the long-term water needs of Bel Air.


In 1999, statewide concerns for water supply during severe drought prompted Maryland’s Governor to form a Technical Advisory Committee to study the issue and make recommendations. 

Based on the recommendations, the Maryland Department of Environment (MDE) issued Water Supply Capacity Guidance in 2006. This guidance establishes the requirements for Water Supply Capacity Management Planning, which helps water systems determine the supply capacity needs of their water systems. Capacity Management Plans are not required of water systems that are operating at less than 80 percent of their Water Appropriation Permit. Maryland American Water is under 80 percent of its Water Appropriation Permit and is not required to submit a Capacity Management Plan.

In February 2013, the Harford County Health Department questioned the purchase water agreement between Maryland American Water and Harford County. The Health Department put a hold on building permits to allow time to review Maryland American Water’s source of supply capacity with the Maryland Department of Environment (MDE) and the existing purchase water agreement between Maryland American Water and Harford County. Although the County has been able to supply water during droughts, the “provided that water is available” condition in the agreement was not acceptable to MDE and the Health Department.


Short-Term Solution: Maryland American Water reaches purchase water agreement with Harford County

Harford County and Maryland American Water, with assistance from the Town of Bel Air developed a temporary purchase water agreement in late 2014. This agreement, which provides 40,000 additional gallons per day, was acceptable to MDE and the Health Department and enables new development to continue while a long term solution is developed. The agreement is for a maximum of four years and ends in 2018.

Long-Term Solution: Construct new water impoundment 

Water supply capacity has historically been and continues to be a problem for the entire region. Maryland American Water reviewed several potential options and settled on the development of a raw water impoundment. A raw water impoundment fulfills all of Maryland American Water’s critical needs by providing a long-term, sustainable water supply. The new structure is an environmentally-sound option that will be built off Winters Run, only to be filled when stream flows are high. This design won’t impede natural stream flows, won’t disrupt the local ecology, and will provide a 100-day supply in case of drought or emergency.


Bel Air Impoundment Permit Application

Bel Air Impoundment Breach Analysis Report

Impoundment Feasibility Study

Water Appropriation Study

Letters of Support