Duckett Dam - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why are improvements being made to the T. Howard Duckett Dam?

Although the dam is safe and structurally sound, the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) is requiring upgrades to ensure the dam can withstand a 1-in-10,000 year storm (32 inches of rain over a 72-hour period). Currently, the dam is designed to withstand a 1-in-500 year storm.

How much rain fell during the state’s worst storm?

During Tropical Storm Agnes in 1972 about 12 inches of rain fell over a 24-hour period in what is described as a once in 500-to-1000 year event.  The dam performed well during Agnes.

What is the average yearly rainfall in this area?

42 inches.

What is the purpose of the dam?

Duckett Dam was built in 1954 to form the reservoir that provides source drinking water for WSSC customers.

Why is Duckett classified as a “high hazard potential dam"?

MDE’s definition of a “high hazard potential dam” is determined by the number of people who live below the dam. The designation has nothing to do with the condition of the dam.

How often is the dam inspected?

Duckett and WSSC’s other two dams (Brighton and Little Seneca) are inspected at least once a year by WSSC staff and MDE.  MDE consistently has said “WSSC has done an excellent job in maintaining and operating their three dams.”

How long will the upgrade project last?

The construction project will take approximately three years to complete (current anticipated completion date May 2015).

Where is the primary staging area for the dam improvement project?

The primary staging area is on WSSC property near the entrance to the Dam facilities off of Brooklyn Bridge Road.  The work will be conducted on weekdays between 7:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.  The bulk of the work on the West Laurel side has been completed.  Work on the Howard County side will continue through the end of May 2015.

What impact will the project have on neighborhoods?

There will be some truck traffic during the project. The ball field at St. Vincent Pallotti High School was unusable during construction but is now back in use.

How many trucks will be passing through the neighborhood?

An estimated 10 trucks will be passing through the neighborhood on an average day. 

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