Water curbs extended to all county systems

Last two public wells with dropping levels part of alternate-day plan

July 10, 2002|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

Carroll's commissioners extended restrictions on outdoor water use to two small systems yesterday, meaning that all public water customers in the county are covered by the prohibitions.

The restrictions - which allow outdoor water use on alternate days for residents, depending upon their street addresses - were extended yesterday to customers in the Pleasant Valley area outside Westminster and Bark Hill, near Union Bridge. Those systems rely on wells whose levels have been dropping, said Douglas Myers, county director of public works.

Myers discussed the wells' conditions at a meeting yesterday of the county Board of Commissioners. The two commissioners present agreed to extend the restrictions, effective immediately.

"It is even more important to conserve with the wells," said Commissioner Robin Bartlett Frazier.

The abnormally low ground-water levels throughout the county are not expected to increase until the weather cools and rainfall increases, Myers said.

Last week, the commissioners voted to impose water restrictions on the nearly 7,000 homes and businesses in the Freedom area of South Carroll. At its Freedom Water Treatment Plant, the county can draw a maximum 3 million gallons daily from Liberty Reservoir, a 45-billion-gallon lake owned by Baltimore City. Daily demand has reached 2.5 million gallons and officials do not want to see it climb higher.

"We are hoping to cut outside use in half," Myers said. "Conservation is on everybody's mind now."

Residents have been limited to hand-held lawn watering devices since the state banned sprinklers nearly three months ago. Carroll's ban goes further. Outside watering is limited to every other day - even-numbered days are for those with even-numbered addresses and odd-numbered days are for those with odd-numbered addresses.

The restrictions do not apply to residents with homes on private well water.

The county's limits are in addition to a state-imposed ban on watering lawns, washing cars and filling pools that are in effect every day. Violators of the state ban or the county restrictions face fines up to $100. Myers said the Sheriff's Department has issued a few verbal and written warnings since the state ban went into effect in late April, but no fines have been levied.

He said callers have bombarded his office with questions on the county's policy, most frequently involving cars and lawns.

"You cannot wash any motorized vehicle of any type, not a boat, a trailer, nothing," said Myers. "Although there are exceptions that allow watering of newly seeded lawns, once you have mowed a lawn, it is no longer new."

The state allows another exception for maintenance of athletic fields. Several residents have complained that they cannot water their grass, while the county runs sprinkler systems on high school athletic fields every day.

"We will talk to the Board of Ed and ask them to use discretion on watering fields," said Commissioner Julia Walsh Gouge.

James Slater, Carroll's drought manager, said he sees no relief in the immediate future from the dry heat and no end to the restrictions.

"The first chance to ameliorate won't be until fall," Slater said. "We need snow, too, and we have not had that for two years now."

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