Manchester prohibits watering of lawns Permanent ban imposed to conserve springs

March 20, 1996|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

Under orders from state and federal environmental authorities to reduce dependency on the springs that supply much of the town's drinking water, Manchester has imposed a permanent ban on watering lawns.

The ban, effective immediately, means residents may not use sprinklers, irrigation systems or hand-held hoses to water grass.

The ban does not prohibit carwashing or watering home gardens, but Town Manager David Warner said residents will have to use conservation techniques when performing those tasks.

"We don't have enough water," he said. "We no longer can afford to wash a car and leave the hose running."

Residents who violate the ban may be fined $25 for the first offense and $50 for each subsequent offense, Mr. Warner said.

The town traditionally has used temporary watering bans during summer droughts but never has imposed a permanent ban, he said.

Manchester may be the first municipality in the county to adopt a permanent ban, Mayor Elmer C. Lippy said.

"People will have to get used to it," he said. "Brown [grass] will have to be beautiful."

Water conservation has been a primary concern for Mr. Lippy and town officials since engineers from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Maryland Department of the Environment told them last year that Manchester's springs are too easily contaminated by surface runoff after heavy rains.

Environmental officials told the town to take steps to replace the springs with wells or install a filtration system.

"MDE hasn't given us a deadline yet," Mr. Warner said, "but we've already begun to drastically cut back on using the springs."

Mr. Warner cited the Route 27 spring, one of three springs that have supplied more than 50 percent of the town's water since 1933.

"In that one spring alone, we have reduced our usage from 42,000 gallons a day to 7,200 gallons a day," he said.

By working with state and federal officials, town leaders hope to secure grants or low-interest loans to buy land and dig new wells.

About one acre of land is needed for a well, Mr. Warner said.

The cost of changing from springs to wells could be $1 million to $2 million, state engineers estimate.

Pub Date: 3/20/96

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