Drought emergency curbs seen for Central Maryland

March 13, 2002|By Howard Libit | Howard Libit,SUN STAFF

Gov. Parris N. Glendening announced yesterday he will declare a drought emergency for Baltimore and Central Maryland, imposing mandatory restrictions on water use for the first time since 1999.

Maryland's rainfall shortage and the low water levels in streams and reservoirs is more typical of the end of a very dry summer than the beginning of spring, state officials said, warning that conditions will likely become more severe.

"Unless there is a significant change in weather, we should recognize this spring and summer are going to be very, very difficult," Glendening said

State officials are still deciding which mandatory restrictions might be imposed, but called for expanded voluntary conservation statewide. All Maryland is now under a drought watch or warning, with everywhere but Garrett County at less than 60 percent of its normal rainfall, said Robert Summers, of the Maryland Department of the Environment.

Glendening said he will place Central Maryland in drought emergency status within the next seven days. That area includes Baltimore City and Baltimore, Carroll, Cecil, Frederick, Harford and Howard counties, as well as parts of northwestern Montgomery County.

The delay gives state officials time to develop a list of mandatory water restrictions. The 1999 drought prompted a ban on watering lawns, filling swimming pools in most cases and washing cars except at commercial car washes that recycle most of their water.

Statewide, 13 smaller water systems are under mandatory use restrictions and another 13 - including the Baltimore area - are asking for voluntary conservation.

For Baltimore has been drawing water from the Susquehanna River since the end of January -the first time it has done so since the 1999 drought.

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