Dealing with drought

Emergency: Good citizenship means browner lawns and dirtier cars during rain shortfall.

August 02, 1999

TEMPERATURES are soaring and rainfall has been as scarce as profound statements from city mayoral candidates.

So Marylanders need to take Gov. Parris N. Glendening's declared drought emergency seriously: resist those three-hour lawn sprinklings; stop washing your car every three days; and turn off the gorgeous, water-hogging plaster fountain that's sitting in your landscaped yard.

The National Weather Service confirmed that this summer's drought is the state's worst in 70 years. Rainfall is 40 percent below normal, and the evidence can be found in the state's waterways -- where a record number of fish kills has been recorded -- on farms with withering crops and on brown lawns everywhere.

Water volume is falling to pitiful levels at the Liberty, Pretty Boy and Loch Raven reservoirs, which supply water to most of the Baltimore area.

The heat and drought, which have punished much of the nation, prompted Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge to declare a similar drought emergency in two-thirds of his state's counties. The governors of Delaware and West Virginia have called on residents to cut water consumption as they consider mandatory restrictions.

In Maryland, Governor Glendening has asked a task force for recommendations by tomorrow of what water restrictions the state should impose. Modest measures could become more restrictive if matters fail to improve. That makes sense.

Meanwhile, Marylanders must do their part.

Until we get enough rainfall to bring water volume to acceptable levels at our reservoirs, good citizens should be happy to comply with voluntary steps to save water. Conservation is needed to ensure that our water supply doesn't evaporate altogether.

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