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.