Westminster lifts some water limits

January 14, 2003|By Athima Chansanchai | Athima Chansanchai,SUN STAFF

With a wet winter replenishing Westminster's water supply, the city's Common Council voted last night to repeal some restrictions against most outdoor watering.

After the recent rain and snow, the city's main water source, the Raw Reservoir, is 98 percent full -- nearly four times the level it was in September.

"I think Mother Nature's cooperated enough to loosen restrictions," said Damian L. Halstad, Common Council president.

In August, a dry summer and plummeting water levels prompted the council to enact restrictions that went beyond the state's prohibitions on water use.

Public water customers

Public water customers in Westminster -- including McDaniel College -- were barred from watering athletic fields, golf courses, commercial nurseries and newly seeded and sodded tracts.

A small number of nurseries petitioned the city for limited exemptions on the condition that they develop water conservation plans.

The city also prohibited the use of hand-held containers and automatic shutoff hoses to water lawns, gardens and outdoor plants.

The council voted unanimously to lift those restrictions.

In October, council members chose to pursue a $2.5 million state loan that would help the city tap Medford Quarry through a permanent, 5.5-mile water main that would provide more than a million gallons of water a day to flow during emergencies.

The pipeline would be buried along Route 31 and would relieve the need to truck in water, which the city did for 20 days on and off, starting Sept. 18 and ending Oct. 11.

Finance Director Joseph D. Urban said that the city spent nearly $73,000 for the delivered water.

Water brought in

In August, the mayor and council had agreed to let the Planning and Public Works Department haul in water when the level in the reservoir dropped below 25 percent and allocated $100,000 to the effort.

"There's a strong argument we can relax the restrictions a bit, but we are moving ahead with our link up to the Medford quarry," Halstad said. "Even though we're flush right now, it doesn't take long to go from flush to empty."

Still in effect are state restrictions prohibiting the use of public water for ornamental fountains, artificial waterfalls, washing cars and paved surfaces and banning the use of sprinklers to water lawns and gardens.

Restaurants also are to refrain from offering tap water unless requested by a customer.

Filling and topping off private pools also is banned.

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