Press Release

BALTIMORE, MD (December 11, 2001) – In response to continued dry conditions, the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) today extended the “Drought “Watch” to the Eastern Shore, advising that continued lack of precipitation could lead to water supply concerns for certain Maryland public water systems and other users. A drought watch is the first stage in the State’s Drought Management Plan. Precipitation deficits, below normal stream flow, and below normal ground water levels for central Maryland and the Eastern Shore at the end of November triggered today’s announcement.

MDE, which regulates public water systems, reminds Marylanders that conserving water is a great idea at any time, but it becomes especially important during periods of prolonged reduced rainfall.

This evaluation adds the following counties to the “Drought Watch” issued on November 9: Kent, Queen Anne’s, Caroline, Talbot, Dorchester, Wicomico, Somerset, and Worcester. The counties covered by the previously issued watch (and which continue to be in “Drought Watch”) are: Garrett, Allegany, Washington, Frederick, Carroll, Baltimore (excluding that part of the county served by the Baltimore City water system), Harford, Cecil, Howard (excluding that part of the county served by the Baltimore City water system) and Montgomery (excluding that part of the county served by the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission). Thus, a total of eighteen counties are now in “Drought Watch.”

Rainfall has been below normal for the western and central regions for the past 12 months and extremely low for all regions of the state for the past three months. Ground water levels have dipped below normal ranges for wells in central Maryland and the Eastern Shore. In addition stream flow is below normal in the eastern, central and western regions. These factors combined to contribute to the “Watch” phase for central and western Maryland and now the Eastern Shore.

Under the state’s Drought Management Plan, the following steps are recommended when a watch stage occurs:

  • Public awareness and education.

  • MDE and water systems provide the public with water conservation tips.

  • Water systems activate a Water Conservation Plan.

  • Water systems aggressively pursue leak detection.

  • Reduce water usage for main flushing, street flushing, and park irrigation.

  • Homeowners, government facilities, businesses and industry should reduce water use for irrigation purposes.

MDE will evaluate drought indicators-- precipitation, stream flow, ground water level and reservoir levels--on a bi-weekly basis during this watch stage. For further information, please visit MDE’s website at: