ANNAPOLIS, MD (August 27, 2002) - Urging Marylanders across the State to continue water conservation efforts, Governor Parris N. Glendening today issued an Executive Order declaring a drought emergency for Maryland's Eastern Shore and implemented level two water restrictions for both the eastern and central regions of the State. Level one restrictions have been in place for the central region since April, however, the continued lack of rainfall combined with the recent heat have caused further decline in water supplies. In addition, the Governor declared a partial ban on open air burning and expanded the Cover Crop Program for farmers devastated by the drought.
"The drought that took hold in Maryland almost one year ago has significantly worsened and we are acting more aggressively to combat these historic drought conditions," said Governor Glendening. "Rainfall, stream flow, and ground water levels are at record lows across the Central region and the Eastern Shore. The recent rainfall is not nearly enough to relieve the stress on our water supply. While the central and eastern regions are the hardest hit, nearly every region of the State is under either a Drought Watch or Drought Emergency. Every Marylander must step back and recognize the urgent need to conserve our water resources. Working together, we will successfully manage this current drought."
Areas impacted by the mandatory restrictions are Kent, Queen Anne's, Caroline, Talbot, Dorchester, Wicomico, Somerset, Worcester, Cecil, Harford, Carroll, Frederick, Baltimore and Howard Counties, Baltimore City, the portion of northern Anne Arundel County served by Baltimore City water systems and the portion of Montgomery County not served by the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission water system.
A complete list of restrictions and exemptions is attached and information is available at mde.maryland.gov. Under Level Two mandatory restrictions the following activities are prohibited (note that there are exceptions for many of the restrictions):
- Watering of lawns;
- Use of sprinklers and other automatic watering devices for purposes of irrigation, watering of gardens, landscaped areas, trees, shrubs and other outdoor plants;
- Irrigation and watering of golf courses;
- Washing paved surfaces such as streets, roads, sidewalks, driveways, garages, parking areas, tennis courts and patios;
- Use of water for the operation of ornamental fountains, artificial waterfalls, misting machines, and reflecting pools;
- Washing or cleaning of mobile equipment including automobiles, trucks, trailers and boats;
- Filling or topping off swimming pools;
- Homeowner power-washing of buildings, fences, decks or other structures;
- Serving water in restaurants, clubs, or eating places, unless specifically requested by the customer;
- All other businesses and industries must implement plans to reduce water consumption by 10 percent
Maryland continues to suffer through one of the worst droughts in State history. Parts of Maryland are experiencing the worst drought conditions since the 1930's. Statewide, the rainfall deficit is 64 percent (14.5 inches) below normal since September 1, 2001. The Central Region is 67 percent (17.2 inches) below normal and the Eastern Shore is 61 percent (16.1 inches) below normal. Central and Eastern Shore rivers and streams are at or below critical levels. The Monocacy River is at levels not seen since the drought of 1966 and in the Susquehanna River Basin, 16 waterways are at or near all-time record lows. The Choptank River on the Eastern Shore is at emergency level.
In addition, reservoirs throughout the region are also being hit hard. Baltimore City reservoirs are normally at 95 percent of capacity in August, but are currently only at about 49 percent. On the Eastern Shore, private well replacements have increased dramatically. Queen Anne's County has been particularly hard hit with twenty times the number of well replacements in July versus the average of the last two years (81 vs. 4). The total number of well replacements on the Eastern Shore is up more than 23 percent compared to the last two years and Central Maryland replacements are nearly three times greater.
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 imposing a State-wide Debris Burning Ban, with the exception of Garrett County. This ban prohibits burning next to woodland areas or areas prone to wildfire. This ban does not affect backyard cook-outs or barbeques.
In addition, the Governor broadened the eligibility requirements of the State's Cover Crop Program to help farmers cope with the drought. The new requirements will assist farmers by providing them with a cover crop they can harvest. This expansion also enables the State to enroll an additional 120,000 acres in the program, which will help further reduce soil erosion and protect water quality.
Outside of the central and eastern regions, citizens should be aware that local water systems may impose their own water-use restrictions. 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).