LONACONING -- Local and state authorities should develop plans to guarantee that the water shortages that struck several Allegany County communities recently do not happen again, Gov. William Donald Schaefer said yesterday.
State officials also said they are closely monitoring water shortages in neighboring Garrett County, where wells and springs have been drying up and water supplies dwindling.
After hearing that the worst might be over for several communities along the George's Creek -- from south of Frostburg down to Westernport -- Governor Schaefer suggested that local officials "sit down with our people."
"Let's assume the worst so we can be prepared if something is needed," he said.
Mr. Schaefer came to Lonaconing's town hall to hear from local officials a status report on a water emergency in the George's Creek area, where water shortages from the worst drought in recent memory have left some communities without water.
Some areas of this coal mining region were forced to use water delivered in temporary tanks. However, because of newly drilled wells and precipitation in the last few days, conditions are improving, local officials said.
Two wells drilled in Lonaconing produced a good water yield, said Gerald Arthur, county public works director. Other communities, such as the Carlos-Shaft area, are awaiting the results of wells now being drilled, and other small areas are "holding their own," he said.
But if the new wells in Carlos-Shaft and other areas don't produce water, or if the precipitation does not increase, "we will have to truck water in all winter," said Robert Perciasepe, secretary of the Maryland Department of the Environment.
Mr. Perciasepe suggested that water systems from Frostburg south be hooked together with connections that would be used only in emergency conditions.
He said his office is working closely with officials in Grantsville, the Garrett County town that trucked in more than 700,000 gallons for four weeks before new wells were drilled. Other communities, such as Crellin and Mountain Lake Park, also have been hit hard by the drought.