Water rules stricter in area

Lenient restrictions on use imposed by state don't supersede town's

Reservoir at 74% capacity

Ban on watering lawns remains in effect, planning chief says

April 10, 2002|By Maria Blackburn | Maria Blackburn,SUN STAFF

In November, months before anyone was thinking about filling swimming pools or watering the grass, Westminster officials implemented water-use restrictions to help replenish the city's water sources after an especially dry summer and autumn.

Since that time, drought conditions across the state have worsened, causing municipalities - and the state of Maryland - to pass water-use restrictions of their own.

Westminster's restrictions, however, are more stringent than those issued by Gov. Parris N. Glendening last week, leading some of the 30,000 people served by the city's water and sewer system to wonder which guidelines prevail.

Thomas B. Beyard, Westminster's director of planning and public works, said yesterday that even though Carroll County falls under the state water restrictions, Westminster's stricter guidelines prevail in areas serviced by city water and sewer.

"Local restrictions can be more strict than the state's. They can't be more lenient," he said.

Westminster's water restrictions include bans on watering lawns, washing cars and filling swimming pools.

The statewide drought emergency guidelines, by comparison, prohibit operation of ornamental fountains and waterfalls that don't continuously recycle water, but they don't mention a ban on filling swimming pools. In addition, watering grass is not allowed, but watering newly seeded lawns is acceptable.

Beyard said he has received about 15 calls from residents and business owners about the drought restrictions since Friday.

"I strongly urge people to conserve, not waste water and to use their judgment," he said. "Until we can qualify what the rules are going to be, I would strongly discourage anyone from using water outside that would have a negative impact."

Westminster's drought restrictions and a new tap on a local creek have helped improve the town's reservoir from 30 percent of capacity to 74 percent, Beyard said. Last year at this time, the reservoir was at 98 percent capacity.

"We're still down from last year, but we have made significant progress," he said.

The state's drought restrictions are available on the Maryland Department of the Environment's Web site at www. mde.state.md.us.

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