Carroll commissioners urge residents to conserve water

No activities prohibited

ban on filling pools eyed

April 05, 2002|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

Concerned about drought conditions and looming water shortages, the Carroll commissioners urged water conservation yesterday, but stopped short of any kind of a ban on use, including filling swimming pools.

"Conservation is important this summer," said Commissioner Julia Walsh Gouge during a meeting on water issues. "Start now, whether you are on a public system or a well."

Douglas E. Myers, county director of public works, had suggested an immediate ban on filling swimming pools, a process that consumes thousands of gallons of water every spring. Last year, haulers carried 1.8 million gallons of water from the county's public system, most of it for pools, he said. Myers has had several queries from residents wondering whether they can fill their pools.

"We probably should do [a pool ban] now so we don't put the system in jeopardy," Gouge said. "We should be pro-active before the situation gets worse. If it rains, we can change things."

However, Commissioner Donald I. Dell called for more information before making a decision. He said he is not prepared to take drastic action until he gets "a handle on what it means." Dell also encouraged conservation and said the county would closely watch the Freedom Water Treatment Plant, the primary source for the haulers.

"I have a problem with overtaxing the system as much as with a water shortage," Dell said.

He suggested the county shouldn't sell water to haulers if that means impairing the Freedom system, which provides water for about 20,000 people in South Carroll.

The county will mail fliers with conservation tips to South Carroll residents and will post similar information on its Web site.

Although the public water supply has no immediate problems in South Carroll, the county's most populous area, officials are concerned with seasonal spikes in demand. Those increases place stress on the plant that treats the water and pumps it to nearly 7,000 homes and businesses.

The plant averages about 2.2 million gallons a day, but during prolonged hot spells, demand has topped 3 million gallons, the facility's capacity. Operation at the capacity rate can stress the 30-year- old equipment.

"We can get 3 million gallons a day, but we don't want our plant treating that much every day," said Commissioner Robin Bartlett Frazier.

South Carroll has experienced water restrictions for four of the past five summers and could see those bans this year. Typically, Memorial Day weekend ushers in the high demand for washing cars, watering lawns and filling pools.

"I understand people like lush lawns," said Myers. "But do they want great landscaping or water for drinking?"

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