ANNAPOLIS, MD (April 5, 2002) - Following one of the most severe winter droughts in the State's history, Governor Parris N. Glendening today issued an Executive Order declaring a drought emergency and imposing Level One mandatory restrictions for Central Maryland, except in the Baltimore City service area. The Governor also urged all Marylanders throughout the State to take voluntary steps to reduce their water use by ten percent.
"The entire State of Maryland is stressed by drought conditions, particularly parts of Central Maryland," said Governor Glendening. "While recent rainfall has improved short-term conditions, it is not enough to improve our long-term outlook. It took us seven months to get where we are -- a few days of intermittent rain is not enough to make up for the large deficit we have accumulated. I urge all Marylanders B businesses, governments, and private citizens B in every part of the State to voluntarily conserve water and make every drop count."
The Central Maryland region now under drought emergency 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 County not served by the Baltimore City System are in a drought emergency.
While geographically in the region, the Baltimore City service area remains under a drought warning because recent rains have begun to refill its reservoirs and replenish the lower Susquehanna River that supplies the service area with much of its water. The Baltimore City area is still in danger of entering a drought emergency if conditions to do not continue to improve.
The Governor's Executive Order imposes Level One mandatory restrictions on the emergency area only. A complete list of restrictions and exemptions is attached and information is available at www.mde.state.md.us. Level One mandatory restrictions include (note that there are exemptions for each restriction):
- Watering of lawns is prohibited.
- Washing paved surfaces such as streets, roads, sidewalks, driveways, garages, parking areas, tennis courts, and patios is prohibited.
- Use of sprinklers and other automatic watering devices is prohibited for purposes of irrigation, watering of gardens, landscaped areas, trees, shrubs and other outdoor plants. Hand held containers and hoses with automatic shut off may be used.
- Use of water for ornamental purposes such as artificial waterfalls, misting machines and reflecting pools is prohibited.
- Use of water for non-commercial washing or cleaning of mobile equipment including automobiles, trucks, trailers and boats is prohibited.
Indicators will continue to be monitored to determine if and when it is necessary to move to Level Two, or if other regions of the State will also go into emergency status. Marylanders with questions concerning any drought-related issue can call the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE), toll-free, at 1-877-4-DROUGHT (1-877-437-6844).
The Governor also included two important provisions in his Executive Order. The first of these allows any local jurisdiction that uses water sources not at emergency levels to opt out of enforcing the mandatory restrictions. The second provision allows local jurisdictions to impose more stringent restrictions if necessary.
"The Frederick area has been very hard hit by the drought and I commend all communities for working together and doing their part to conserve water," said Delegate Sue Hecht. "Thanks to the Governor's leadership, the entire State is now reducing water usage and finding ways to save this precious resource."
"I hope everyone takes today's announcement seriously and makes every effort to abide by the restrictions," said Frederick Mayor Jennifer P. Dougherty. "Only with the help of Mother Nature and our citizens can we assure the future of our water supply. As Benjamin Franklin warned, 'We know the value of water when the well is dry.' With everyone's support the dry well can be avoided."
Maryland is now facing one of the worst droughts in the State's history following one of the driest winters on record. Rainfall and winter snow accumulation are at least ten inches below normal for the period since September 1, 2001. In addition, stream flows and groundwater levels have reached record lows in many parts of the State. From November 1, 2001 through January 31, 2002, MDE had received 270 well-replacement requests as compared to 126 the previous year. In the Washington suburbs, the Potomac River has been reaching historic lows. Across the State, half of the ground water wells that are used for drought evaluation are in the emergency range. While many reservoir levels are currently in the normal range, they are in danger of being depleted if conditions do not improve within the next few months.
The recent rainfall the area has experienced is not nearly enough to alleviate drought conditions. Recently, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Weather Service reported that while long-range modeling indicates a slight return to normal conditions in the Mid-Atlantic, it will not be enough to relieve drought conditions, especially in the summer.
Governor Glendening also urged every Maryland resident and business to take voluntary steps to reduce water usage by 10 percent. During the drought of 1999, water usage dropped an incredible 15 to 20 percent across the State when mandatory conservation measures were taken. The Governor suggested several easy steps Marylanders can take, including:
- Repair leaky faucets, toilets or pipes.
- Landscape using drought-tolerant plants.
- Use a broom instead of a hose to clean sidewalks, decks and other hard surfaces.
The Governor also issued an Executive Order establishing a Water Resource Management Advisory Committee that will assist and advise the State in implementing programs and policies relating to the management, development, conservation and protection of Maryland's water resources.
"I am delighted the Governor has decided to issue this Executive Order dealing with our persistent groundwater problems," said Delegate Richard D'Amato. "I commend him for responding so swiftly and positively to our suggestion that the State move aggressively in examining and taking action to stabilize groundwater supplies. The Governor has demonstrated once again his commitment to the environment."