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Drinking Water

Pro­tect­ing and puri­fy­ing our community’s fresh drink­ing water is one of our most vital tasks. Whether we use water to quench our thirst, wash our clothes, or bathe, it remains our great­est resource and is strictly reg­u­lated through fed­eral and local guide­lines. So set down that bot­tled water and go to the tap with a reusable bot­tle for a refill.

The drink­ing water avail­able in your com­mu­nity is reg­u­lated by the U.S. Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency, while bot­tled water that is pur­chased is reg­u­lated by the U.S. Food and Drug Admin­is­tra­tion. Inter­est­ingly, the agen­cies do not fol­low the same guide­lines to reg­u­late the con­sump­tion of water. The EPA’s guide­lines for com­mu­nity water are far stricter than those used by the bot­tled water industry.

Reser­voirs and Drink­ing Water Supply

All of Howard County pub­lic water is pur­chased from Bal­ti­more City and the Wash­ing­ton Sub­ur­ban San­i­tary Com­mis­sion (WSSC) through a series of nego­ti­ated legal agree­ments. Under cur­rent agree­ments, aver­age daily capac­ity from Bal­ti­more City is 38.5 mil­lion gal­lons per day (mgd) and from WSSC is 3.0 mgd, for a total of 41.5 mgd. Cur­rent aver­age daily use in the County is 22.4 mgd.

The Bal­ti­more City Reser­voirs are a major drink­ing water sup­ply source for the Bal­ti­more region and the pri­mary source of water for the pub­lic water sup­ply sys­tem in Howard County.

Howard County works coop­er­a­tively with Mont­gomery and Prince George’s Coun­ties, Wash­ing­ton Sub­ur­ban San­i­tary Com­mis­sion, Maryland-National Cap­i­tal Park and Plan­ning Com­mis­sion, Howard Soil Con­ser­va­tion Dis­trict, and Mont­gomery Soil Con­ser­va­tion Dis­trict to pro­tect the nat­ural resources within the Patux­ent Reser­voirs water­shed, which sup­ply a smaller por­tion of our pub­lic drink­ing water system.

The major­ity of land in Howard County is pri­vately owned, so man­age­ment prac­tices at indi­vid­ual homes and busi­nesses are crit­i­cal to local water quality.

Howard County Bureau of Utilities

Howard County’s Bureau of Util­i­ties web­page pro­vides lots of infor­ma­tion about the water pro­grams they imple­ment such as water meters, the Lit­tle Patux­ent Water Recla­ma­tion Plant, Water Reuse, Sep­tics, and more. You can also find reports such as the annual water qual­ity report and water audits.

Green Tip

Buy local.It’s fresher: Produce shipped from outside the country travels up to two weeks before it arrives in grocery stores.