WESTMINSTER — The recent rains may have brightened the flowers a bit, but they areunlikely to solve the city's water woes.
The lack of rainfall since May has reduced Westminster's water reservoir to 53 percent of itsnormal capacity, leading Mayor W. Benjamin Brown to advise the City Council to put Westminster's water conservation ordinance into effectat a special council meeting this morning.
On June 21, council members asked residents to voluntarily cut water usage. But the drain on the city system -- between 2 million and 2.5 million gallons of water a day -- has not slowed, he said.
Thecity typically pumps 1.8 million to 2 million gallons of water a day.
"There has been no appreciable drop in use since the council's voluntary request," said Brown, adding that the ban would apply to anyone who uses city water.
Under the ordinance -- which will take effect if the council agrees to advertise it twice in county newspapers-- all county residents on the city water system would be forbidden from outside water use, such as car washing and lawn watering.
Offenders would first be given a warning, followed by a $25 fine for a second offense. A third violation would result in a $50 fine, and the customer's water would be turned off after a fourth offense.
"Thisis serious enough that we will enforce it," Brown said. "Of particular concern are people outside city limits who use city water.
"Theban applies to them, and we do have the authority to enforce the banoutside city limits."
The ban does not extend to commercial waterusage, he said.
"We don't want people to be laid off of work for this," he said.
Brown said he will ask city personnel not to fine people carrying water in buckets to trees.
"I think it's natural for people to water their trees and shrubs. As long as there's no hose, I have no intent of enforcing (the ban)."
Most municipal officials across the county said they have asked for voluntary water conservation but see no need for a ban since residents have responded to their requests.
However, officials said they are monitoring their resources frequently and will call for mandatory conservation if there is a dramatic drop in town wells and springs.
"Our wells have been holding out very well, but this is not a time to waste water," said Taneytown's city manager Neal W. Powell, echoing other municipal managers' concerns. "There really won't be any recharge until fall becausethe plants will absorb any rain we get now."
Only Union Bridge appears to have no water worries.
"We're water-rich," said Mayor Perry L. Jones Jr. "That's one thing we have plenty of."