THE DE\TELGPMENT OF THE METROPOLITAN DISTRICT
OF BALTIMORE COUNTY
The question of supplying water is an old one, and history
shows that the Roman, Greek, and civilisation antedating the Greek by a
thousand years, all had their water supplies. The Romans built large
aqueducts, the remains of which are still standing. The most famous of
these were the Aqua Claudia and the Anio Novus. The Aqua Claudia, carried
water to Rome from two springs that forty-five miles away. Thirty- five
miles of this was underground, and the remaining ten miles above. The
inside was rectangular, measuring four feet by nine feet. The Anio
Novus carried water sixty- two miles to the City of Rome. It was
partly above and partly below the ground. The Greeks cut their aqueducts
underground, often going under streams, through mountains, and in the case
of the City of Syracuse, ran one under the sea. The Romans even had
The earliest record of pipe was obtained from excavations of
the Temple of Bel, at Nippur, Babylonia by Helprect who found clay pipe
which dates back 4000 B. C. It is believed that this work belongs to the
fifth millenium in the Kingdom of Nimrod. The clay pipes were imbedded
in the bottom of an arched tunnel, which compares on a small scale,
with those of today. These clay pipes are about six inches in diameter
and undoubtedly did not have much pressure on them.
The first mention we have of iron is that of Tubal Cain,
about 3874 B. C. Both clay and lead pipes were used by the Greeks 600
B. C. Viturvius, 25 B. C.j states that lead pipes were made about
twenty-five feet in length, and bent up from sheets, the size of the
pipe being governed by the width of the sheets. Cast iron was first
mentioned as in use in France in the sixteenth century, and in London
in the seventeenth century.
In America nothing was done in the way of public water supply
until the early part of the eighteenth century.
COMPLSXITY CF SANITARY PROBLEMS
The sanitary problems in Baltimore County have always been
complex, because of certain peculiarit s of the County, which are not
common in most of the other counties, in this or other states. The
peculiarities are of two kinds — those of geography and those of polit-
ical subdivision. The geographic peculiarity is due to the fact that the
more thickly populated part of Baltimore County practically circumscribes
Baltimore City. Except for political boundary lines there is virtually
no seperation of population from Baltimore City and Baltimore County.
This geographic situation has resulted in an intensification of sanitary
difficulties which probably do not arise in many other counties, where
populations are scattered in small groups.
FIRST WATER COMPANY IN THE COUNTY
In 1888 the City of Baltimore took the Gunpowder River supply
and erected the first Lock Raven reservoir. Under legislative enact-
ment, the County was granted the right to withdraw, for Its own use, a
maxirauiJFoT^fSh /gallons a day. However, no mention was made as to how
this was to be gotten to the various parts of the County. Subsequently,
the Baltimore County Water and Electric Company, a private concern, ac-
quired therights in the patapsco River, and distributed water through
its mains to a portion of the more congested district around the City.
INCREASE IN POPULATION
The population, moreover, was steadily increasing in Balti-
more County. In three years, proceeding the taking of the 1910 census,
the increase in population was about thirty- seven per cent. To meet
this increase other water companies were organized and operated in
the County, until there were seven in all.
LACK OF SANITARY FACILITIES
In 1912, the Baltimore ounty Commissioners, in a public
document, reoognised the difficulties to be met in supplying the district
with water and sewerage, in the following words: "The one great draw-
back to the desirability of this entire section of Baltimore County has
always been the lack of adequate sewerage and water facilities." — "That
for more than ten years past there have been frequent demands on the
part of residents for relief from this intolerable condition of affairs."
However, they were not able at this time to determine upon any proper,
general plan of providing these requirements of modern communities, at
minimum cost and with the most economical organization. One of the
reasons for this was that at this time, the subject of annexation had
begun to be agitated. Pending the outcome of this struggle, no plan
could be undertaken by the County authorities that did not involve
the contingency of annexation.
In 1918, annexation became a fact, and with it, or immediately
subsequent thereto, the taking over, by the City of Baltimore, the sys-
tems of seven water companies, including that of the Baltimore County
Water and Electric Company. A large part of this company's system
was now in the City annex. Everyone thought that the sanitary problems
of this section were over, but, immediately following the annexation,
there was an enormous increase in population and building operations
in the district around the new city line. It was now necessary to supply
this community with water and sewerage.
POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS TO THE PROBLEM
When the County authorities and citizens found themselves
confronted with this situation, it was evident to them that there were
only two possible solutions to the problem. First, to seek an entirely
seperate source of supply, with the necessary reservoir, pumping, and
filtering stations, and a system of mains of sufficient size to dis-
tribute the water over the entire populus area of the County, parallel-
ing in part, or acquiring in part, that part of the old Baltimore County
Water and Electric Company* s system, which still remained in parts of
the County. Second, to effect some arrangement with the City by which
it would supply water through its plants, and by an extension of its
mains, through the district around the City.
ADVISABILITY OF SECOND PLAN
Such a project as the first would have involved a large ex-
penditure of capital, to be borne either directly by the entire County,
or by a sanitary district to be created. It would also have brought
political and legislative complications in the acquirement and adjust-
ment of the water rights and properties of Baltimore City. Hence the
second plan seemed the only sensible and practical solution to the prob-
lem under all circumstances. The principle question of the plan was,
could such an arrangement be effected with the authorities of Baltimore
City. After many negotiations, the City finally agreed to enter into
the second plan.
CITY FAILS TO COOPERATE
However, as the population continued to increase, the City
made no extension in the County, thus depriving the community of
proper sanitary facilities, which greatly retarded its development.
In 1923 , the State Department of Health pointed out to the Baltimore
County Commissioners that neither sewerage nor water supply were available at
Landsdowne, Arbutu3, Oella, Wood lawn, Pikes villa, Essex, and several
other communities. They also pointed out that there were no sewers
of proper design or adequacy in Halethorpe, Relay, and several other
localities. All of the above mentioned communities were, and had been
for some time, sufficiently populated to require something other than
ancient forms of water supply and sewage disposal facilities.
The only conclusions , which could be drawn in 1923 from the
facts mentioned above were that relatively little improvement had taken
place in twenty-five years, in the sanitary conditions in these areas.
In some cases, conditions were considerably worse, because of overflowing
cesspools and polution of streams, than in previous years. Water service
had become increasingly difficult to obtain after annexation, since
private water enterprises in Baltimore County had been eliminated by
purchase, by Baltimore City.
A REMEDY SOUGHT
At that time a small group of prominent citizens, numbering
about twenty-five or thirty, started a movement to secure a remedy for
the relief of the situation. They decided that what was most needed
was some plan for the co-operative solving of water and sewage problems
common to various communities in the area under consideration. In
other words, some principle of organization was needed to be established
for the construction, maintenance, and operation of sewerage, water supply,,
and stormwater drainage systems. They also decided that two primary
elements were essential, one, that the control of the undertaking should
remain in the hands of the Baltimore County Residents; and, two, that
some duly constituted authority should be granted legal powers to pro-
vide for proper co-ordination of the problems and plans involved in
such a complex undertaking.
The also realized that aa water and sewerage systems must always
be treated as co-ordinate units, it would be undesirable to attempt to
design and construct individual water supply and sewerage systems for
individual areas. The rate of growth in the area surrounding Baltimore
City had been so rapid that the mere differences in the names of these
areas did not signify distinct and seperate communities. Topography
and over-lapping of populations indicated to most persons interested
in the sanitary problems of Baltimore County that any plan for improve-
ment muct recognize that the thickly populated section encircling the
City of Baltimore was, in reality, a single unit rather than a group
of isolated towns.
PLAN DECIDED UPON
In view of these facts it was evident to the persons concerned
in the future of the County, that the best plan from a sanitary and an
ecomomie point of view would lie in the establishment of an organization
for the construction, maintenance, and operation of sewerage, water sup-
ply, and storm-water drainage systems for the entire area, each unit of
which would be coordinated with the design for the entire area. The
engineers consulted on this problem agreed that this co-ordinated
plan would offer the most economical, and most prompt solution to the in-
The next thing, which had to be accomplished was to establish
the form of organization by legislative enactment. This would provide
th© administrative body, the engineering forces, and the system of
financing to meet the peculiar geographic, political, and economic
demand of this area. The result of a careful investigation of possible
plans was the Baltimore County Metropolitan District legislation, known
as Senate Bill No. 175. This bill was enacted by the 1924 Legislative
Assembly of Maryland and became effective May first 1924.
THE METROPOLITAN DISTRICT ACT
This bill created a metropolitan district in Baltimore
County, contiguous to Baltimore City, to provide for the construction,
maintenance, operation, purchase, or condemnation of water supply, sew-
erage, and storm water drainage systems, and for the issuance of bonds,
and the levy of taxes, assessments, benefits, and chafcges.
The bill designated by the county Commissioners of Baltimore
County as the duly constituted authority for carrying out the provisions
of this act. They were made responsible for the appointing, and fixing
of the compensation of the engineers to carry out the details of the
project. It granted the commissioners rights of acquiring land, struct-
ures, sources of water supply, or other property which might be necessary
for the proper development of their programs.
All of Baltimore County was not placed in the Metropolitan
District. Of the six hundred and four square miles in Baltimore
County, two hundred and thirty-four were placed in the district. The
boundaries of this part of the county were specified in the bill.
As the problems of the district were very closely connected with
those of Baltimore City, the bill provided that all surveys, studies.
and plans must be made in co-operation with the Chief Engineer of Bal-
timore City. This provision was essential in order that the systems des-
igned and constructed would follow a uniform plan and would not conflict
with the programs and policies of Baltimore City.
Due to the fact that water supply facilities were not easily
available, the act also provided, subsequent to agreement with Baltimore
City authorities, that Baltimore City be authorized and directed to
make extensions of water supply in the district, whenever and wherever
requested by the Commissioners of Baltimore County. At the request of these
Commissioners, the City of Baltimore was empowered to assume operating
control of the water supply services in the Metropolitan District, after
the extensions had been made and paid for by the County Commissioners.
However, there were still many problems to be solved after the
passage of this bill. First, there was no orginisation, machinery, or
equipment that was capable of performing the task. There was however,
a small body of men that had been engaged on the Towson Sewer Installat-
ion. These were given places, and around them, as a nucleus, the present
orginlzation was formed.
Another problem which confronted the Commissioners, was the
best method of oontrol of this area. They decided that the best way
was to divide the territory into seven sub-districts. The areas
of these districts varied from five to twenty-five square miles.
(See fig. a.)
WORK ACCOMPLISHED TO DATE
Work was begun immediately* Between May 1924, and April
1926, eighty miles of water pipe, ranging in size from six inches to
twenty inches; and thirty-five miles of six inch to forty-eight inch
sewer pipe were laid. Besides this, a substantion of five million
gallon daily capacity has been constructed on North Point Road, A three
hundred thousand gallon stand pipe was erected on Upper Landing Avenue.
This has an elevation at one hundred and thirty-five feet for maintaining
the pressure on the Eseex distribution system* This Btandpipe is
on a hill, having an elevation of one hundred and five feet A. M. T.
In the year ending April 30, 1926, sixty-two per oent of the
total disbursements was for water construction. Two of the greatest
demands on the district at this time is that of Bdgemere for water supply,
and enlargement of the Towson disposal plant, whioh at present is serving
the maximum number it was designed for.
This brings the development of the Metrolpoitan District up
to the present time.
• PERCENTAGE. CHART -
DISBUR5E.ME.NTS FOR. THE YEAR, ENQ1NS
APRIL X>, I92&.
ii promotion ruprwj;) AWtftTuiNa.K I ,02%
IS IMJURE AKO DAMAfltl I .037-
6t MISCELLANEOUS PROPERTIES [ .047.
M LtSAL EXPENSES PRINTIHS,RECOftD>MB | .10".
n insurance | .207
77 deferred expenses .20 7.
V 6rnERAL ASSETS. TAH6L&LE.
UN PUMPIN* SYSTEM PROPERTIES WATER
ll ACCOUNTING AND OrflCt, 6IU.INS
10 SINKING FUND
M INTEREST AKO SYSTEM RENTALS
V&7 SEWER CONSTRUCTION
W- 47 WATER CONSTRUCTION
Substation on North Point Road.
The Easex Stand-pipe
District. Served By The Above Stand-pipe
Towson Disposal Plant.
All the data for this thesis was obtained from the following:
1. The Baltimore County Metropolitan District's
2* The Annual Report of the Metropolitan District
5. A personal interview with Mr. A. E. Walden,
Chief Engineer of the Metropolitan District.