BALTIMORE, MD (June 14, 2002) – Despite recent rains, the region continues to be in one of the most severe droughts in history. Acting Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) Secretary Merrylin Zaw-Mon reminds Marylanders that water conservation is critically important, now more than ever.
On April 5, Governor Parris N. Glendening declared a drought emergency and imposed Level One mandatory water use restrictions for central Maryland. Those restrictions still remain in effect.
All Marylanders throughout the state are encouraged to take voluntary steps to reduce their water use by ten percent. The City of Baltimore recently renewed its request for citizens to voluntarily reduce their water use because city reservoirs are at roughly 62 percent of capacity.
“Although precipitation has been at or above normal for the past three months, the rainfall has done little to relieve the area’s water supply shortage, which began last summer,” Secretary Zaw-Mon said. “If conditions persist, Marylanders may face expansion of mandatory water use restrictions announced by Gov. Glendening more than two months ago. Reports from water systems tell us that citizens have backed off voluntary conservation measures and that could worsen the ability to meet water demands later this summer.”
Analysis of drought indicators for the month of May reveal that the central region is still in a drought emergency while Southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore are in warning status. MDE studies show groundwater levels remain low, with many monitoring wells setting record low levels for this time of year. Stream flows, which during the summer rely heavily on baseflow from ground water, are also extremely low.
“It is critical that citizens living in the central region continue to comply with mandatory water use restrictions,” Zaw Mon added.
The central Maryland region consists of Cecil, Carroll, Harford, Howard, and Frederick counties. In addition, portions of northwestern Montgomery County that are not served by the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC), and portions of Baltimore and Howard counties not served by the Baltimore City System are in a drought emergency.
Level One mandatory water use restrictions prohibit, with some exceptions, watering of grass areas, the use of automatic sprinkler systems for watering landscape plants and garden areas, washing of paved areas, operation of ornamental fountains, washing of vehicles, and serving of water in restaurants except upon request.
Water use tends to increase during the summer months, especially when temperatures are high. But there are additional steps citizens can take to reduce their water use, including repairing leaks, taking shorter showers, turning off the water when shaving or brushing teeth, mulching garden areas to conserve soil moisture, and running dishwashers and washing machines only with a full load.
Information about the state’s drought status, the mandatory restrictions, and more water conservation tips are available at MDE’s website: mde.maryland.gov/drought or call Maryland’s toll free drought hotline at 1-877-4-DROUGHT.