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Full text of "The development of the metropolitan district of Baltimore County / L.P. Baird"

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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 
water meters. 

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. 


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. 

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. 

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. 

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. 

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. 

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. 

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. 

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. 

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- 
creasing difficulties. 

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. 

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.) 


Metropolitan District 

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. 




APRIL X>, I92&. 

ii promotion ruprwj;) AWtftTuiNa.K I ,02% 




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77 deferred expenses .20 7. 

















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Substation on North Point Road. 

Pump Room 


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.