Terrors scrambling to keep fields green

College practice areas part of new water bans

August 14, 2002|By Athima Chansanchai | Athima Chansanchai,SUN STAFF

When the Green Terrors return to McDaniel College for training, they'll face an unexpected challenge: parched and prickly fields.

The college's football practice fields are the latest casualties of the heat and drought. Concerned about Westminster's dwindling water supply, the Common Council has enacted more prohibitive measures to conserve water.

Effective Saturday, athletic fields, golf courses, commercial nurseries and newly seeded and sodded tracts can no longer use the city's public water system for maintenance. The measures apply to public water customers, not those that use wells such as the Wakefield Valley and Bear Creek golf clubs.

"The fields will become hard and worn out there. If it continues to stay dry, it won't be a lot different than playing on concrete," said Phil Boob, director of grounds at the school formerly known as Western Maryland College.

The city has been adhering to the state's restrictions, which prohibit the use of public water for ornamental fountains, artificial waterfalls, washing cars and paved surfaces, and using sprinklers to water lawns. Violators could face fines, starting at $200. Habitual offenders could have their water turned off.

Now, the city is looking for more relief and expanding restrictions, which also prohibit the use of hand-held containers and automatic shutoff hoses to water lawns, gardens and outdoor plants.

The city also plans to send letters to restaurant owners asking them to refrain from serving tap water unless requested by customers.

The city's water comfort level has always rested on the supply at Raw Reservoir, one of the city's primary water sources. The water level there usually hovers around 70 percent but has dropped to 39 percent.

At McDaniel College, the restrictions mean Boob has to find alternate water sources immediately.

As part of the Baltimore Ravens' contract with the college, the pro football team reseeds the three practice fields it used during its monthlong training camp. But without water, that effort is futile. Boob's also worried about other teams that return this weekend - soccer, field hockey and cross country.

His challenge is to keep the team from becoming the Brown Terror and he is looking at alternatives - drilling wells or bringing water in by trucks.

In his 16 years at the school, Boob said, this summer's drought has been among the worst he's seen.

"We need a 1972 Hurricane Agnes type of thing - not that I wish that type of flooding on anybody, but 22 inches of rain, that's the type of thing we need to really recover," Boob said. "Though it'd be nice if it was spread out over two weeks instead of two days."

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