Water restored to most of Balto. Co.

Reisterstown's service takes the longest to return after main breaks

March 19, 2004|By Laurie Willis | Laurie Willis,SUN STAFF

Pat Miller, About 5 p.m. yesterday, Pat Miller got something she desperately wanted: running water in her home.

It couldn't have come soon enough. The Reisterstown resident - and others in northwestern Baltimore County - had been without water for almost two days. And for the second day, some schools were closed.

The water main break that had left as many as 200,000 people without water was repaired Wednesday night. But customers in Pikesville, Owings Mills and Randallstown apparently used so much water yesterday that it took the better part of yesterday for water to work its way up to Reisterstown, said Kurt Kocher, a spokesman for Baltimore City's Department of Public Works.

"People are catching up on taking showers, washing dishes, washing clothes, flushing toilets," Kocher said. "The water has to be pumped uphill to Reisterstown and then pumped up once more to fill up the towers. Once that's done, we'll be in good shape."

By this morning, everyone in the county should have water service restored, said Robert Murrow, another city public works spokesman. The 10 county schools that were closed yesterday are expected to reopen.

The water problems began Monday night when a 36-inch main broke because of shifting ground. Public works officials rerouted water to a 54-inch main. But when that larger main broke Tuesday night, water service was disrupted. Thirty-four Baltimore County public schools had to be closed Wednesday, along with many businesses.

Residents scrambled to area stores to hunt for bottled water.

"I've been going to the grocery store and buying gallons of water," Miller said yesterday, about two hours before her water was restored. "It's an inconvenience and certainly an eye-opener to appreciating having running water in the house."

Miller, 45, didn't go to work yesterday because she wasn't able to shower.

"I told them that without having a shower, I was definitely more comfortable working from home," Miller, a telecommunications director. "I am lucky I have that option."

Miller's 12-year-old daughter, Rachel, attended her sixth-grade classes at Sudbrook Magnet School yesterday.

Douglas J. Neilson, a spokesman for Baltimore County schools, said a decision was made at 5:30 a.m. to close Franklin High, Middle and Elementary schools, Owings Mills High and Elementary schools and New Town High School. Administrators at four other schools - Reisterstown, Glyndon and Cedarmere elementary schools and Chatsworth School - prepared to open but later had to close.

"What happened ... was we knew we weren't going to have water at the six [schools] we closed at 5.30 a.m., but we were told that we should have water at the other four schools on time for opening," Neilson said.

At Reisterstown 24 Hour Veterinary Complex, workers drove to a nearby Target to use the store's bathrooms.

"Oh my goodness, it's a hassle," said Diane Parlett, accounting manager at the emergency veterinary facility. "Just the bathroom facilities alone, with employees that's a problem. We can't afford to have people keep leaving, and you know they're gone like 15 or 20 minutes. But you've got to allow that."

Overall, Parlett said, things weren't so bad.

"Luckily we don't have a lot of animals in the hospital right now," she said. "Boarding is down this time of the year because it's our slow season."

She said employees pitched in by bringing in water.

"I live in Cockeysville, so I brought in about 20 gallons this morning," Parlett said. "Some employees are stopping along their way to work and purchasing water to make sure that we have what we need."

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