HAMPSTEAD — A town government plan to save water with conservation kits appears to be a dry well.
Despite several bans the last six years on outdoor water use, there is no groundswell of support for town efforts to conserve the resource.
"I am really not interested," said Hampstead resident Mark Ball, 30, referring to the water conservation retrofit kits. "It's something I just haven't thought about."
Ball was among more than a dozen Hampstead residents asked about the kits. And his reaction was not unusual.
"I am not interested," said T. Wilson Alban. "There are just two of us here, and we really don't use that much water."
Hampstead has had kits available for sale since August to residents who usecity water and sewer.
Town and county officials hope to boost residents' interest in the water-saving devices by using direct mail.
Last July, county government purchased some 2,000 of the $8.50 kits,which include aerators for kitchen and bathroom faucets, dams for two toilet tanks and a water-saving shower head, from Niagara Conservation Corp. of Flanders, N.J.
The kits were to be the first step in initiating a conservation program recommended in 1990 by a countywidewater conservation committee.
The panel, which included county budget officials and mayors from each Carroll municipality, set up the program so that each town could oversee its own water conservation and rely on the county's Water Resources Department for support.
Thecounty picked Hampstead to pilot the conservation program because ofcontinual concern over the town's water supply.
Town Manager JohnRiley said residents' response to the kits has been "disappointing."Riley presented the idea through the town newsletter and an October water conservation seminar at Spring Garden Elementary.
"We held aseminar to introduce the kits and, in essence, send the message thatthe kits can make a difference," Riley said. "We had a mock-up of a toilet and a shower that could actually show how much water could be saved."
Riley said fewer than 10 residents attended.
A household of four could reduce water consumption by 12 percent to 15 percent and save $60 annually on water, gas and electric bills by using the kit, he said.
"We purchased approximately 20 kits from the county, and about 19 residents made purchases," Riley said. Additional kits could easily be supplied if interest rose, Riley said.
Nearly 1,200customers use city water.
"I don't know anything about the retrofit kits," said Janice Wheeler, who lives on Main Street with her husband, Robert. "I don't have one, but I'd like to know about it if it can save me water."
She said she'd ask town officials about the kits.
County water resource specialist Bob King said he is amazed that more of the money-saving devices haven't made their way into homes.
King, who was hired by the county Dec. 20 to oversee the water conservation program, is evaluating Hampstead's program before initiating another in the Freedom district.
"We are doing a marketing study to find out why there is so much resistance (in Hampstead) to thesekits," he said.
"We would like to try mail order, where we could send out the form in the water bill to Freedom residents, and they could mail it back."
King said easier availability of the kits couldencourage residents to better support water conservation. Hampstead residents had to purchase the kits at the Town Office during businesshours.
"We will not only sell the kits, but also separate components, which will allow residents to pick specific equipment suited forindividual homes," King said.
Riley said mail order also could bedone easily from his office since water bills are sent out by mail.
"We have an envelope and, if we need to, we can put a form in for people to fill out and return," he said.