Westminster, MD, Thursday, March 18, 2021 – Today in Open Session, the Carroll County Board of Commissioners discussed the ongoing Piney Run Watershed Study and voted to move forward with Alternative 1, the strictly compliance choice for the Piney Run Dam.  Alternative one will raise the dam, widen the spillway, and armor the downstream end of the auxiliary spillway with concrete.  This decision will not involve any changes to the level of the reservoir or change its current recreational status but also does not preclude the county from pursuing the reservoir as a water source in the future.

There is a significant Piney Run Watershed Study history that began in January 2018 and is available as a timeline on the dedicated Piney Run Watershed webpage. At the direction of the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE), the county began the Piney Run Watershed Study in October 2019 to evaluate the condition of the dam and determine if there are any inadequacies that need to be addressed.  Carroll County contracted AECOM consultants to analyze the dam with funding from a Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) grant. With the analysis complete, the bureau presented alternatives for improvements to the dam. Staff briefed the commissioners on February 25, 2021 during Open Session and presented the project and alternatives at two public meetings on March 11th.   

This decision:

  • Has a lower county financial investment
  • Addresses MDE compliance issues related to public safety
  • Does not preclude future water supply use
  • Has the potential for NRCS cost-share
  • Has minimal impact to reservoir during construction
  • Ensures environmental study prior to construction

The next step in the watershed study is the production of final documentation for review and approval by NRCS.  This process is anticipated to take until October of this year.  The county will then apply for additional grant funding from NRCS for the design of the Alternative 1 modifications to the dam.  The county anticipates hearing back from NRCS in April 2022, which will allow the county to then proceed with the engineering design and environmental permitting of the proposed modifications.  Engineering design and permitting is anticipated to take approximately 2 years.  The county will then be able to apply for further grant funding from NRCS to cover 65% of the construction costs, which are currently estimated to be $7.5M.

“This is a win-win solution for Carroll County, it satisfies our mandated mitigation as required by the state, allows us to pursue federal grant funding from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) for the next phase of the project and also alleviates some of the community’s concerns for the environment and use of the reservoir, “ said Commissioner Ed Rothstein, District 5. “This decision is a result of a thoughtful process analyzing all the alternatives, accepting the advice of subject matter experts, and listening to resident feedback, all leading to ultimately making a choice for today which does not hurt our options in the future.”


“I appreciate the passion of our residents in their feedback regarding Piney Run,” Commissioner Stephen Wantz, District 1, added. “One of our most important tools as commissioners is education; we need as much information as possible, with every option available, so that we can evaluate and deliberate to effectively make the best decision. This process was a successful execution of the public process.”

The watershed study was financed by a NRCS grant and was performed by AECOM, an international firm with resources specializing in dam engineering.

Information about the Piney Run Watershed Study can be found on the county’s webpage https://www.carrollcountymd.gov/government/directory/land-resource-management/resource-management/piney-run-watershed-study/  Updates will appear on the webpage throughout the remainder of the study process.  For more information, contact the Bureau Chief of Resource Management, Christopher Heyn, at  PineyRunStudy@carrollcountymd.gov or 410-386-2712.

Meetings are available for viewing on the county meeting portal and the county YouTube channel. In addition, all meetings will be replayed on Comcast Channel 24.