Baltimore no longer using water from Susquehanna

With Floyd, reservoirs reached 61% capacity

September 29, 1999|By Frank D. Roylance | Frank D. Roylance,SUN STAFF

Does your water taste better? It should.

Public works officials in Baltimore said yesterday the city's water distribution system is no longer using water from the Susquehanna River.

Public works spokesman Kurt Kocher said the pumps were shut off soon after Hurricane Floyd swept across the region Sept. 16 and dropped more than 10 billion gallons into the city's reservoirs.

Many consumers had complained that the river water made the city's normally pleasant reservoir brew taste bad. But the river additive should be gone from the pipes.

Baltimore's three reservoirs have climbed to an average 61 percent of capacity, Kocher said. That's up from 45 percent in mid-August, and short of the 65 percent to 70 percent that is normal for this time of year.

The city began drawing 50 million gallons a day from the Susquehanna on Aug. 9, eight days after Gov. Parris N. Glen- dening decared a drought emergency and imposed statewide watering restrictions. The governor pressed reluctant city officials to tap the river as a way to reduce the drain on the city's reservoirs.

Statewide watering bans were ended Sept. 1 after 29 days and a series of heavy thunderstorms. The drought emergency was canceled Sept. 21, after the passage of Hurricane Floyd.

Since then, daily consumption by the 1.8 million people served by the Baltimore system has crept up again -- from about 250 million gallons a day during the watering ban, to 257 million gallons Monday. But that is below the 270 million-gallon average for September.

Kocher said the city's "Big Inch" pipe from the Susquehanna is being kept charged with water, and its pumps will remain at the ready until it is clear that the long-range weather patterns have changed and the drought is really over.

"We'll be watching the weather," he said.

More than 10 inches of rain has fallen in September, making it the wettest September since 1950, when record-keeping began at Baltimore-Washington International Airport. The wettest September recorded in Baltimore was in 1934, when 12.41 inches fell.

Hurricane Floyd brought 5.8 inches of rain to the airport in two days. The wettest September day in Baltimore was Sept. 24, 1912, when 5.97 inches was recorded.

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