Heat wave has officials promoting water conservation measures

June 19, 1994|By From Staff Reports

The unusually hot and dry late spring has officials of four of Carroll County's eight water systems taking conservation measures.

Hampstead has banned outdoor water use. County officials, who run the Freedom District system, and those in Manchester and Taneytown are asking residents to cut water use voluntarily.

The lack of rain is causing a critical situation for those tied into the Freedom District water supply, said Micki Smith, county public information director.

The situation became more critical Wednesday, when the county Utilities Department received a call that a hydrant had been opened in the Freedom District. Ms. Smith said a building contractor might have been responsible.

"The supply is so short and something like that endangers everybody," she said. "In case of disasters, there might not be enough water. Storage tanks are drained from heavy usage and there is no capacity to refill them."

The county is asking residents in the Freedom District to limit water use voluntarily.

"Be careful with the water," Ms. Smith said. "Don't wash cars and water lawns. Be more careful and everyone will be better off."

Manchester officials, who noticed an increase in use of about 20,000 gallons, started a voluntary outdoor water ban Wednesday, said manager Terry Short.

The voluntary ban means that council members are recommending residents stop watering their lawns, washing their cars, or similar activities, Mr. Short said.

"We want to see if people will work with us to eliminate the problem," he said.

Hampstead has seen a drop in water usage after starting an mandatory outdoor water ban on Thursday, said manager John Riley.

Water use ran from 406,000 gallons per day to 430,000 gallons per day during the week before the ban, he said. Thursday's use dropped to 365,000 gallons, Mr. Riley said.

"Last year at the same time we were in the low [300,000s]," he said. "We've added some new houses, but even with putting those into the equation, that's too much water."

The Hampstead ban will be in effect indefinitely. It prohibits watering lawns or gardens, washing cars, filling pools or washing porches and sidewalks, Mr. Riley said.

Fines are $25 for the first offense and $50 for each subsequent offense.

Taneytown officials have urged residents to conserve water, City Manager John L. Kendall said.

The city is operating a new well -- which can pump up to 450 gallons per minute -- but officials are still being cautious.

"We only asked them to conserve through next Friday, but if we don't see some relief before then, we may just have to start a ban," Mr. Kendall said.

Union Bridge has not needed to reduce its use, Clerk Treasurer Kathleen D. Kreimer said.

"We're real lucky," Ms. Kreimer said. "We're right on top of a lake and, knock on wood, we've never had any problems."

New Windsor has been unaffected as well by the lack of rainfall, Mayor Jack A. Gullo Jr. said Friday. The same was true in Mount Airy, where Councilman R. Delaine Hobbs said Friday that the town had no water problems.

Westminster is not experiencing unusual problems, though city officials always ask residents to conserve.

Water usage has increased in recent hot weather, but the city is not facing a shortage, said Thomas B. Beyard, Westminster's public works director.

Meanwhile, residents can receive tips on how to save water in a new video produced by the county as part of an effort to promote water conservation. The 13-minute video is available to interested persons or groups.

The video will be shown on channels 3 and 19, and will be available at public libraries.

Information: 857-2150.

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