Press Release

ANNAPOLIS, MD (July 29, 1999) - Prompted more than 30 years, Governor Parris N. Glendening by the most severe drought in today issued an declaring a statewide drought emergency. The Governor Executive Order called voluntarily conserve water until a newly appointed task force upon all Marylanders to recommends further and announced that he would seek federal financial measures, assistance for adversely affected by the drought and provide $3 million in Maryland farmers State funds for agricultural relief.

"This drought is a serious problem. But we do not intend to let it become unmanageable," said Governor Glendening. "With water supplies severely stressed across the State, and with forecasters predicting minimal relief, it is vital that we take a coordinated, comprehensive approach to the drought on a statewide basis."

The Governor’s Executive Order urges all Marylanders to take voluntary steps to immediately reduce their consumption of water and take other actions in response to the drought, including:

  • Do not water
    your flowers or your grass;
  • Do not wash
    your car;
  • Do not wash
    off paved surfaces such as sidewalks or
  • Do not use
    water in ornamental fountains, waterfalls
    or reflecting pools;
  • Refrain from
    outdoor burning;
  • And take
    other common sense measures.

The Governor made the announcement on the banks of the drought-stricken Liberty Reservoir, which is owned by the City of Baltimore. The Governor pointed out that Liberty Reservoir is more than 24 feet below normal, the Pretty Boy Reservoir is down more than 18 feet, and Loch Raven Reservoir is down 5 feet.

"These three serve the Baltimore area and provide water to over 1.8 million people in greater Baltimore," said Governor Glendening.  "The fact is, if water consumption continues at the current rate, there is only a 35-day supply in these reservoirs."

All across the state low rainfall has produced dangerously dry conditions. Flow in the Susquehanna River is down by two-thirds. In the Potomac River—which provides water to the Washington Metropolitan Region—flow is down by 50 percent.

Over the past three years, Maryland’s precipitation has been far below normal. The cumulative impact of these conditions has resulted in farmers’ crops and livestock being threatened; low water levels in several Bay tributaries, resulting in large fish-kills; and twice as many wild fires as last year. Conditions have worsened to the point where the National Weather Service has declared that the Mid-Atlantic region is the most severely impacted part of the country.

In addition to water supply concerns, the drought is having a serious impact on Maryland’s agricultural industry. The Governor’s Executive Order provides for $3 million in emergency assistance for Maryland’s farmers.

"The money will help provide for such aid as cover crops and hay distribution," said Governor Glendening.  "In addition, I have contacted U.S. Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman and received his assurance that he is willing to work with us
to secure federal assistance for our drought-stricken farmers."

In response to the drought, the Governor appointed a Drought Emergency Coordinating Committee, chaired by Maryland Department of the Environment Secretary Jane Nishida, to develop recommendations for potential mandatory water conservation measures.  The committees recommendations will be sent to the Governor by August 3.

In addition to Secretary Nishida, the task force members include: DNR Secretary Sarah Taylor-Rogers; Health and Mental Hygiene Secretary Benjamin Georges, MD; Maryland Emergency Management Director David McMillion; Agriculture Secretary Henry Virts, DVM; John Morton, Vice-President of the Mid-Atlantic Region for NationsBank; Mike Hirshfield, Vice-President of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation; and Dutch Ruppersberger, Baltimore County Executive.

"I have asked the committee to develop a phased-in, graduated series of steps we will take if drought conditions continue to worsen," said Governor Glendening. "I have seen Marylanders pull together as one community under difficult circumstances. Through blizzards, floods, and droughts, Marylanders have time and again proven that they are ready, willing, and able to do whatever is necessary."