BALTIMORE, MD (August 18, 2004) – Maryland’s population will grow by over one million people in the next quarter-century, which means the state will have to find an average of 233 million additional gallons of water a day to serve the larger population.
To provide the nearly 1.7 billion gallons of water per day that will be needed by 2030 will require effective conservation measures, greater state support and assistance for local planning, and close cooperation between Maryland and Virginia in using water drawn from the Potomac River, according to a report released today.
The report is the work of a blue-ribbon panel that studied Maryland’s water needs and water supply. The committee was chaired by Dr. M. Gordon “Reds” Wolman, of The Johns Hopkins University.
Governor Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr., whose executive order created the Advisory Committee on the Management and Protection of the State’s Water Resources, said, “Maryland has been blessed with an abundant supply of water. Our obligation to future generations is to manage that water supply wisely.”
The study was requested by more than 70 members of the Maryland General Assembly in the wake of the 2002 drought. Of the drought, the report said, “There was an alarming realization that unless and until adequate measures are taken, Maryland will have great difficulties in the future in meeting its growing water demand, which could lead to a water crisis of significant proportions.”
The measures needed to protect the state’s water supply are the subject of the report. Among its key recommendations:
- An on-going, comprehensive evaluation of watersheds and aquifers that supply water to Marylanders. This would be a continuation of the advisory committee’s work.
- Improved management of aquifers statewide and development of a comprehensive multi-aquifer model for the coastal plain (Southern Maryland, Anne Arundel County, eastern Baltimore, Harford and Cecil counties, and the Eastern Shore), where levels have declined significantly in the past 20 years. This would serve as the basis for such ground water management decisions as issuing permits for wells and developing local sewer and water plans.
- Continued funding of observation wells and stream gauges and expand the network when possible. The governor’s office has already restored the funds to the Fiscal 2005 budget.
- Creation of a permanent advisory committee to periodically evaluate implementation of the committee’s recommendations.
- Improved coordination between Maryland and Virginia regarding water allocations from the Potomac River.
- Increased state support – both financial and technical – for local water and sewer planning.
- Development of an aggressive educational outreach program to inform the public about water supply issues and the importance of conservation.
The governor praised the committee and its chairman for their work. “In a very short time, Dr. Wolman and his committee have given us a clear blueprint for future actions based on good science.”
“During the drought of 2002, Marylanders recognized for the first time in recent memory that our water resources are not limitless,” the secretary of the environment, Kendl P. Philbrick, said. “We must improve our monitoring and management of this vital resource if we are going to continue to have a vibrant and growing economy in Maryland. We clearly have more work to do and we look forward to continuing our efforts with the assistance of Dr. Wolman and those members of the advisory committee who would like to continue.”
MDE has developed an action plan plan to continue to work with the committee to implement the seven key recommendations contained in the report. It includes immediate steps to ensure that current resources are directed toward addressing the most pressing recommendations and provisions to evaluate additional regulatory and/or legislative measures that can be taken in the future.
The full report of the committee and the MDE action plan are available from the Department of the Environment and may be downloaded from the Internet at the Department’s web page at mde.maryland.gov