The Westminster Common Council imposed water restrictions last night - effective immediately - that ban car washing and lawn watering until water sources in the city are replenished.
The annual rainfall total is almost 14 inches below normal, and officials are concerned about low water levels at the city's eight wells and its reservoir on Lucabaugh Mill Road, which is at 30 percent to 35 percent capacity.
The city's approval of water use restrictions should permit it to obtain the state Department of the Environment's permission to tap Hull Creek, behind TownMall of Westminster, as a water source, said Thomas Beyard, director of planning and public works. Tapping secondary water sources is prohibited unless a city first imposes water use restrictions.
"What this does is give us more flexibility to draw from other sources in the system, so we don't have to draw from the reservoir," Beyard said. "The state requires us to impose the restrictions in order to make withdrawals from other sites."
Under restrictions, customers:
May not water lawns.
May water gardens only with handheld watering cans or buckets. Trees and greens are limited to necessary watering only.
May not wash sidewalks, roads, driveways, patios, parking areas; or fill or top off pools; or operate ornamental fountains, including waterfalls and reflecting pools that do not recirculate water.
Restaurants may not serve water unless it's requested.
Golf courses may be watered using syringe irrigation only.
Nurseries and landscaping companies must reduce usage by 10 percent.
Voluntary compliance of a 10 percent reduction in water usage by all business is encouraged.
No prohibitions were placed on agricultural irrigation.
The council voted to impose the restrictions after a presentation from Beyard and discussion.
The last time the city imposed a water ban was in summer 1999, and before that in 1991, Mayor Kevin E. Dayhoff said.
"I think it's important for people to understand the importance of the situation and voluntarily conserve water," said Councilman Gregory Pecoraro.