Westminster receives more than $5 million in federal grants to fund crucial city water projects

Westminster Mayor Mona Becker announced this week that the city has received more than $5 million in federal grants that will allow the city to ensure a consistent water supply and replace a water main on Route 27. Becker said the funding will result in “increased economic growth for the city.”

The grants were announced last fall by U.S. Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, who is a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, as part of funding legislation for fiscal 2023. The senators included the Westminster grant application with other requests from Western Maryland, totaling nearly $16.9 million.

Westminster received $2.9 million for PUREWater Westminster, the first water reuse facility in the state. Currently, the city relies on the Cranberry and Hull creeks and groundwater wells for its water supply, but those supplies are vulnerable to drought. To address water scarcity, the federal funds will support a new advanced treatment facility, which will be able to purify additional water from the Westminster Water Reclamation Facility and direct the clean water to the Cranberry Reservoir, increasing the city’s surface water capacity by 50%, according to a news release from Van Hollen.

The city also received $2.1 million for a water main replacement project on Route 27.

“City staff worked long hours to get these grants written and submitted to the federal government,” Becker wrote in a Tuesday Facebook post announcing the funds. “Thanks to our Senators Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin and our Representatives Jamie Raskin and Dutch Ruppersberger for working on behalf of the city.”

Becker said the grants will help promote the city’s long-term economic and residential development in the future.

“Our Achilles heel in development is that we don’t have a good water source and so we’re limited in our economic growth and residential growth because we don’t have water to allocate to new businesses and properties coming in the city,” she said.

Westminster Common Council member Tony Chiavacchi said the grants will provide opportunities for new businesses in the city.

“A community that stays stagnant and never changes in most cases ultimately is not a healthy thing, so you need to be able to change and pivot as things change in society and having water is critical to that,” he said. “This is going to give us those opportunities to move in the right direction when water is needed.”