Dribs and drabs of advice on the droughtIn all my years...

SATURDAY MAILBOX

August 28, 1999

Dribs and drabs of advice on the drought

In all my years living in Baltimore, I never thought we would have a serious water problem. At times in the past, some water restrictions would be imposed during hot weather, but this was infrequent and never a hardship.

Now for the first time I am purchasing bottled water and treating it like gold. Although I never wasted water, I felt free to use it as I pleased.

Now, I am constantly trying to find methods to save water.

In the past, I always let the water run when I washed dishes by hand. Now, dishwashing takes time because I no longer let the water run.

Washing clothes is a chore now, because only doing full loads takes planning and I must keep extra clothes on hand while I build a full load of wash.

I keep hair washing and drawing bath water at a very low level. My household cleaning has suffered, because I have not figured out how to clean every room with dirty water.

I have pet cats and feed a few strays. I recycle the cans from their food. These need to be washed before going out. Without letting the water run, this can be very time-consuming.

The bottom line is that I have less time now because of the drought. And the prospect of this shortage problem getting more severe concerns me very much.

I feel so sorry for the farmers who depend on water for their crops and for their livelihood. What happens when they cannot grow food for us because of the shortage of water?

In this age when we can get almost anything we want when we want it, I find it very sobering to think about what would we do if our water and food supply would dwindle to a point where it could not be quickly replenished.

Gerry Fincham

Baltimore

I think the water-use restrictions are needed and have been for a while. We have been in this drought for a while, so the shortage shouldn't have been a surprise to our leaders.

But if the restrictions had begun months ago, they would not need to be so drastic. We could have saved millions of gallons by watering lawns on alternate days -- and would not now be in this frenzy of cheating and tattling.

I also think the "water police" is a waste of our officers' time. I would rather have a water cheater get away with sprinkling his or her lawn than an armed robber get away because an officer was busy getting a hose turned off.

Communities could themselves monitor water use. Homeowner's associations could impose fines and neighbors could use peer pressure.

And saving water should not be a new thing to anyone.

I have always conserved water by taking showers instead of baths, turning the water off when brushing my teeth, not letting faucets drip, washing dishes in the sink instead of the dishwasher, washing full loads of laundry, not letting the hose run continuously while washing the car and timing lawn watering.

Though the restrictions have caused my lawn to die, my flowers and young trees are doing fine, because I water them with recycled water from showers and dish rinsing.

Everyone needs to keep in mind that conserving water isn't a punishment, but a necessity.

If you want a green lawn, buy lawn paint. Every gallon you "cheat" onto your lawn is one gallon less we may have to drink down the line.

Jane M. Usero

Ellicott City

We live in a rural area, where we built our own house with a drilled well in March 1955. Our well was drilled during a dry summer, but the driller still could not bail it dry. He thought we'd never have a water problem and so did we.

Guess what? Our well recently went dry.

We are now hauling water from friend's houses, taking our laundry out, leaving the lid off the commode tank (so we can easily dump water in for the flush), heating water on the stove for our baths and dishes and buying bottled water for drinking and cooking.

It is nice that we have good friends and can do all these things, but what has happened to the water that has never been a problem for 44 years?

People with wells, be careful: This could happen to your well.

Isabelle Stearn

Havre de Grace

I live in a row house in Southwest Baltimore and the drought has affected my family in many ways.

We don't see the neighborhood kids playing with hoses in their back yards or filling up their plastic swimming pools.

In front, no one is washing cars or hosing down the pavement. The marble steps on many houses are dirty; nobody comes to wash them anymore.

Outdoor fountains in the city parks are shut down. Some service stations and public buildings have closed their restrooms to the public.

Personally, I now shave in the shower, drink less water and feel guilty if I happen to waste good water.

Philip A. Thayer

Baltimore

Conservation is not a popular concept these days: just look at the large new homes and the increasing size of vehicles. But because of one of the worst droughts of the century, the governor has mandated water conservation.

How can we save this most precious resource? Stop watering the lawn, even after the ban is lifted. Watering lawns is probably the biggest waste of water -- as well as time and money.

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