Rain hasn't ended drought, Carroll Co. officials warn

Residents are urged to keep conserving water

May 19, 2002|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

Despite the fair amount of rain in the past several weeks, Carroll County officials are urging residents to continue water conservation because the drought has not released its grip.

Reservoirs in the county remain low and ground-water levels are below average, county officials said. The last summer with above-normal rainfall was 1996, a year marked by several hurricanes.

The county Department of Public Works has mailed about 8,000 fliers detailing conservation measures to homeowners served by the public water system in South Carroll. The brochures also are available at the County Office Building in Westminster and at public library branches.

"People are getting the message, and they are conserving," said Douglas Myers, director of public works. "They are coming in to talk about the issue, and a few have gotten the conservation devices we offer."

Although many people think the rain has eased the situation, the possibility of failed wells and water bans still exists. Tom Devilbiss, county hydrogeologist, frequently hears from residents whose wells have gone dry in this, the fourth consecutive year of below-average rainfall.

"We are not as dire as we were, but we have not made significant gains," said Devilbiss. "At least ground-water levels have stabilized and are not dropping. We still need to conserve big time."

The county monitors 20 wells in different areas biweekly and compares the levels with 10 years of data. Most monitored wells are showing average or below-average levels, Devilbiss said.

The water table is rising slightly, but after prolonged drought, Devilbiss does not expect major changes until the fall and winter, and then only with impressive amounts of rain and snow.

"The reservoirs really need a good blizzard," Myers said. "There is nothing better than the runoff from melting snows."

Barring a blizzard, Myers would take a few drenching hurricanes but not the damaging kind, he said.

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