BALTIMORE, MD (April 13, 2012) – The Maryland Department of the Environment announced today that a drought "watch" is in effect for the Eastern region of Maryland, where precipitation levels have been below normal in recent months.
During a drought watch, MDE increases oversight of water supply conditions and encourages citizens to become more aware of their water use and to conserve water. Local water systems can require water-use restrictions at any time due to local conditions, but MDE is not at this time aware of any local jurisdictions implementing voluntary or mandatory restrictions. The status for all other regions of Maryland is "normal."
MDE monitors precipitation, stream flow, groundwater levels and reservoir storage to determine the drought status for each of six regions of the state. If two or more of the four indicators for a region reach "watch," "warning," or "emergency" levels, then the region is placed in the corresponding status.
Recommended actions have been established for each drought status. Actions recommended for watch stage include:
- Public awareness and education
- MDE and water systems provide the public with water conservation tips
- Water systems aggressively pursue leak detection
- Reduced water usage for main flushing, street flushing and park irrigation
- Homeowners, government facilities, businesses and industry should reduce water use for irrigation
During the watch stage, MDE will evaluate drought indicators bi-weekly.
The Eastern region includes Kent, Queen Anne’s, Talbot, Caroline, Dorchester, Wicomico, Somerset and Worcester counties. Monitoring shows that groundwater levels and streamflow in the region are below normal. Rainfall in the Eastern region in the first three months of 2012 is on average about 4.3 inches below normal, or about 60 percent of normal.
Precipitation has been relatively low for the past three months in the Central and Southern regions of the state, and some groundwater levels and streamflows are below normal. Conditions in all regions could worsen if sufficient rainfall is not received in the next month.
Reservoirs continue to have sufficient reserves and are expected to remain normal.
Conserving water is important at any time, but it becomes especially important during extended periods of reduced rainfall. MDE provides tips on water conservation for households, business and industry and water utilities.
Tips for households include:
- Install low-consumption toilets and low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators
- Repair leaks
- Don’t let the faucet flow while brushing your teeth or shaving
- Operate washing machines and dishwashers only when fully loaded
- Use a broom, not a hose, to clean driveways, steps and sidewalks
- Limit watering to gardens and newly planted lawns and landscaped areas
- Water your garden during the coolest part of the day, and not on windy days