Outside water-use limits eased in South Carroll

Addresses determine when spigots can go on

June 15, 1999|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

South Carroll residents whose addresses end in odd numbers will be permitted to water their lawns and wash their cars today for the first time in two weeks.

The county modified its June 1 ban on outside watering yesterday to allow use on alternating days. Even-numbered addresses will be permitted to resume outdoor water use tomorrow and continue on even-numbered days. The restriction will continue indefinitely.

The outdoor water-use ban gave the county time to fill a new $750,000, million-gallon storage tank. The water had to come from the county's daily allotment of 3 million gallons from Liberty Reservoir. Although construction was complete, there had not been enough extra water to fill the tank until late last week.

"Usage has dropped noticeably and consistently since the ban," said Gary Horst, county director of enterprise and recreation services, in a meeting with county commissioners yesterday. "We have been able to operate the treatment plant at normal, manageable levels due to citizens' response to our requirement for no outside usage. What they did let us get the tank filled and on line."

Usage dropped from a record high of nearly 3.5 million gallons a day on May 31 -- 500,000 above the plant's capacity -- to 2.3 million gallons Sunday. The Freedom water treatment plant supplies more than 6,500 households and businesses in Eldersburg and Sykesville.

"The plant has had a good week now operating at less than maximum capacity," said Horst in recommending that the ban be relaxed.

"We are actually down 1 million gallons from Memorial Day weekend," said Commissioner Donald I. Dell. "Making the ban odd-even is the fair thing to do."

The county will continue to monitor water use by residents and businesses. Dell said he hopes the alternating schedule will be sufficient.

In 1997, during one of the driest spells in more than 30 years, the alternating-days ban stayed in effect through September.

During the decrease in demand last week, operators gradually filled the new storage tank at Route 32 and Johnsville Road. The county received state approval to open the tank Friday.

Horst praised residents for a quick response to the water crisis that started May 20.

"We were able to start filling the tank as soon as word got out about the ban," said Horst. "If usage had not gone down, we could not have filled the tank."

The new tank brings county storage capacity to 3.5 million gallons, providing a buffer for fire emergencies and similar sudden increases in usage, said Horst.

In another conservation measure, the county will not allow water haulers, who usually fill the big pools, to tap into the Freedom supply. In the first week of June, two haulers drew 370,000 gallons from a storage tank on Martz Road.

Pub Date: 6/15/99

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