Here's a water-log of ideas for the lawn-obsessed

March 18, 2002|By Kevin Cowherd

DROUGHT? WHAT drought?

That seems to be the reaction these days from some of our dimmer citizens, who gaze at Maryland's listless streams and dwindling reservoirs and wonder: "Um, shouldn't there be more water there?

Well, yes, Mr. or Ms. Environmentally Aware, there should.

So sometime before noon today, the governor will step up to a bank of microphones and, in that wonderfully endearing monotone of his, declare a drought emergency for Baltimore and Central Maryland.

Then, according to Mike Morrill, Gov. Parris Glendening's director of communications, the governor will impose a set of mandatory restrictions on water use, which, for the average citizen, basically boil down to this:

No outdoor watering except with a hand-held hose or handheld bucket.

No watering of grass, except for newly seeded lawns.

No washing of vehicles.

Unless we get the kind of rainfall this spring that washes away suspension bridges and sends bellowing livestock floating past your picture window, these water restrictions could be around for a while, too.

Me, I'm glad to see the governor go after the two main types of water-wasters these days: the Lords of the Lawn and the Serial Car-Washers.

The Lords of the Lawn are those homeowners who are obsessed - there is no other word for it - on having the greenest, most lush lawn on the block.

To that end, they heap enough chemicals and fertilizers on the grass to cause a perpetual shimmering mist to hover over it. Then they get the sprinkler going 24 hours a day.

"People have a tendency to over-water their lawns," is how John Verrico, a spokesman for the Maryland Department of the Environment, delicately puts it.

The most arrogant Lords of the Lawn, in fact, turn their sprinklers on in the morning before they go to work - and leave them on all day. When they come home, the lawn has the soupy texture of a rice paddy.

So what if dozens of gallons of water are now streaming through the gutters, headed for the storm drains and the Chesapeake Bay with all those chemicals?

Hey, the lawn's green, isn't it?

In fact, the minute a tiny patch of brown appears on their precious green carpet, the Lords of the Lawn freak out and water the grass even more.

By God, these people have to be stopped.

And maybe Parris Glendening, with these mandatory restrictions, is just the man to do it.

I'm glad to see the governor addressing the Serial Car Washers, too.

These are the chipper, energetic souls who apparently awaken each day with one thought running through their heads: "Hey, let's wash the car!"

They wash their cars on nice days, not-so-nice days, sunny days, cloudy days, spring days, summer days, fall days. They wash their cars on their days off, and on the days they work.

To the Serial Car Washer, life isn't complete unless you're dragging the hose out to the driveway and digging a sponge, bucket and jug of Armor All Spot & Wash out of the tool shed.

Hey, don't get me wrong, OK? I like a clean car as much as the next person. You're not dealing with a slob here.

But I think washing your car two or three times a week is a little excessive, don't you?

Unless your car is headed for the showroom at Bill Kidd's Toyota, seems to me you could live with a couple of smudges on the hood.

Then there's the matter of the Serial Car-Washers who don't use shut-off nozzles on their hoses.

In other words, they just let the water - gallons and gallons of water - run out of the hose while they leisurely soap the car.

"Yes, we recommend shut-off nozzles on the hoses," John Verrico said.

But, see, John, the problem with some of these Serial Car-Washers is you can "recommend" they use shut-off nozzles 'til you're blue in the face. Conserving water is not exactly a priority with these people.

Seeing their reflection in the hood of their Beamer - now that's a priority.

Anyway, the rest of the restrictions that Glendening proposes today are said to be voluntary.

These will probably include: Don't take long showers, use the dishwasher and washing machine only with full loads, don't leave the faucet running when you shave or brush your teeth, that sort of thing.

OK, let me unburden myself of some guilt right here.

Until a few years ago, I used to leave the faucet running while I brushed my teeth.

Then the kids started getting on me about all the water I was wasting. Every time I brushed with the water on, they looked at me like I just punched the dog.

You can only take that look for so long.

Maybe I'll send them to the Lord of the Lawn down the street.

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