With the city's three reservoirs largely replenished by recent rain and snow, Baltimore water officials have shut down the flow of supplementary water from the Susequehanna River.
The reservoir system was at almost 82 percent of capacity yeterday, up from a low of about 64 percent when the pumps on the Susquehanna near Deer Creek were first switched on in December.
"We don't want to say the drought is totally over. But the situation we're facing now is vastly improved over what we were facing in December," said Kurt L. Kocher, spokesman for the city's Department of Public Works.
Although the reservoirs are still below the 90 percent that's normal for this time of year, Kocher said, "The reality for the past month has been quite good for us, and the short-term forecasts now say we'll be having some more rain. That's what we're hoping for."
Kocher reported yesterday that Loch Raven Reservoir stood at 95 percent of capacity. Prettyboy Reservoir, which flows into Loch Raven along the Gunpowder Falls, was at was at 75 percent, while Liberty Reservoir, on the Baltimore County-Carroll County line, stood at 82 percent.
While that's lower than normal, officials pronounced it good enough - especially since it costs $10,000 a day to run each of the two Susquehanna River pumps.
"You have to balance it out," Kocher said. "You have to be fiscally responsible and make sure we've got enough water." The pumps were shut off last Tuesday.
He said the city's water customers should not take the announcement as a green light to "go ahead and waste water." But conditions have improved enough to allow the pumps to be shut down "until the next drought."
The Baltimore Department of Public Works first announced on Dec. 11 that it planned to tap the Susquehanna during the winter as a way to conserve the region's own reservoir supplies.
Officials also asked the 1.8 million people served by the city's water system to voluntarily cut their water usage by 5 percent.