Howard enforces limit on water

Summer restriction on 66,000 customers spurred by damaged water main in Balto. Co.

May 05, 2007|By Sandy Alexander | Sandy Alexander,sun reporter

A deteriorated water main in Baltimore County that has been shut down for about a year will force Howard County residents to curtail their lawn watering, car washing and pool filling for a second summer.

Beginning on May 18, Howard County is requiring residents, businesses and institutions on the public water system to restrict most outdoor water use on weekends and holidays.

The restrictions will affect about 66,000 water customers in the eastern half of the county. People using private wells will not be affected.

Anne Arundel County, a portion of which is served by a branch of the same water main, is considering similar restrictions and will likely make a decision next week.

The damaged 54-inch water main runs from Baltimore City through southwest Baltimore County before branching off to Howard and Anne Arundel.

As one of Howard's two main water delivery lines, the damaged pipe "delivers a significant amount of drinking water to Howard County," said Alexandra King, a county spokeswoman.

"It is a major water main," she said. "It does take time to fix it."

Howard officials fear that without restrictions, the increased summer demand for water could interfere with the ability to provide water, maintain water pressure and make water available for fire emergencies.

Anne Arundel County officials will weigh the ability to move water from other areas in the county to the northern region most affected by the repairs, said Matt Mirenzi, utility operations administrator.

As in Howard, weather and its effect on water demand will also be weighed, he said.

If Anne Arundel does need to put limits on water use, "we do not expect it will be as restrictive as the ones we had to implement last year," he said.

From May through September last year, Anne Arundel County limited water use in the northern part of the county after 5 p.m. weekdays and all day during the weekends.

That is similar to the plan Howard put in place last June, replacing restrictions implemented last May that applied on odd- or even-numbered days, depending on the user's address.

Repairs are being administered by Baltimore County, which is sharing the costs with Howard and Anne Arundel, according to David F. Fidler, a spokesman for the Baltimore County Department of Public Works.

Following preliminary work last summer and fall, "construction began in January," he said. "We're hopeful it will be finished on the first of July."

Fidler said the county is replacing 4,300 feet of pipe and repairing an additional 3,200 feet. Baltimore County, which uses a small amount of water from the pipe, has not implemented water restrictions.

In Howard County, the new restrictions apply from 6 p.m. Friday until 12:01 a.m. Monday and all day on holidays. During those times, public water users may not:

Water lawns or plants with sprinklers or free-running hoses.

Wash paved or outdoor surfaces and structures, such as sidewalks, driveways and patios.

Use water for nonrecycling ornamental purposes such as waterfalls, misting machines and reflective pools.

Use power washers,

Use water for noncommercial washing of automobiles, trucks, trailers and boats.

Fill or top off swimming pools, unless they are newly constructed or repaired.

County residents may water gardens and plants with buckets, watering cans or hand-held hoses with nozzles that shut off automatically. They may also use commercial car washes.

Violators could be forced to pay a fine, be subject to criminal charges or be cut off from the water supply.

For more information, call Howard's water restriction information line at 410-313-4949 or the county's Bureau of Utilities at 410-313-4900.

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