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Frostburg Regional Water System Development. Frostburg, Maryland.

The City of Frostburg and surrounding communities of Allegany County required a more reliable and plentiful drinking water supply source to meet the needs of the growing population.

WRA executed a multi-phased and faceted program of improving the source water supply, improving the water treatment capabilities and improving the water distribution system to serve Frostburg and surrounding communities. The initial phase involved planning and design of a new dam downstream of an existing smaller dam to create the 400 Million Gallon Piney Creek Reservoir. The project also included a raw water pump station (2 MGD initial capacity) and 10,000 feet of raw water transmission main. The second phase involved replacement of the obsolete water treatment plant with a new 3 MGD state-of-the-art water treatment facility. The conventional treatment process with high-rate gravity filters was selected based upon treatability testing and operational flexibility to meet challenging raw water conditions. The most recent phase revisited source water supply capabilities to confirm that additional communities could be served.

Project Highlights


The foundation material for the dam was shale and thus required grouting. Suitable materials for the impervious core and earth embankment were located on City property. Although an earth embankment was selected, roller compacted concrete was also investigated.


The Piney Creek Dam and Reservoir project involved significant environmental considerations. A total of 48 acres of the disturbed or submerged areas were classified as wetlands and were mitigated by in-kind replacement and other measures.

Water Pumping

Hydraulic design for the Piney Creek Dam Pump Station was challenging due to the variable suction conditions (reservoir water level) and discharge piping that included significant elevation changes. A transient analysis was conducted which demonstrated the need for surge control valves.

Water Treatment

The pretreatment process selection involved an evaluation of conventional as well as compact proprietary systems. Conventional pretreatment (rapid mixing, flocculation and sedimentation) was selected based upon its superior operational flexibility and comparable costs.


The architectural concept for the new Frostburg Water Treatment Plant utilizing brick and masonry trim materials was developed to suit the grades of the sloping site as well as to reflect the state-of-the-art process design within.

Master Planning and Modeling

Water distribution modeling confirmed that fire suppression within City limits could be met and determined if piping upgrades were required to meet future water demands. WRA developed water demand projections to confirm that the upgraded water supply facilities would meet demands.

Source Water Development

Calculations of effective safe yield were recently revisited for the reservoir supply due to MDE requirements as related to “flow-by” during drought conditions. The calculations were presented to MDE to gain some relief regarding flow-by requirements for meeting regional water demands.