BALTIMORE, MD (January 24, 2002) – In response to below normal precipitation for the past four months, the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) today announced that the drought status for Central Maryland and the Eastern Shore is changing from a “Drought Watch” to a “Drought Warning.”
Western Maryland remains in a “Drought Watch.” Continued precipitation deficits could lead to water supply concerns for certain Maryland public water systems, domestic well owners and other users. A drought warning is the second stage in the State’s Drought Management Plan. Increasing precipitation deficits have caused stream flows and ground water levels to become even lower in December than in November, resulting in a change from “Drought Watch” to “Drought Warning” for central Maryland and the Eastern Shore. Above average precipitation is needed during the next quarter to improve the current hydrologic conditions.
MDE, which regulates public water systems, reminds Marylanders that conserving water is a great idea at any time, but it becomes especially important during periods of prolonged reduced rainfall. Water utilities and homeowners are particularly encouraged to detect and repair all leaks to reduce the unnecessary loss of water. Homeowners are encouraged to conduct a water audit to determine places for water savings. (See MDE’s website at www.mde.state.md.us/waterconservation for detailed information.)
The following counties are under “Drought Warning” status: Frederick, Carroll, Baltimore (excluding that part of the county served by the Baltimore City water system), Harford, Cecil, Howard (excluding that part of the county served by the Baltimore City water system), Montgomery (excluding that part of the county served by the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission), Kent, Queen Anne’s, Caroline, Talbot, Dorchester, Wicomico, Somerset, and Worcester.
The following counties that remain under “Drought Watch” are: Garrett, Allegany, and Washington. MDE will evaluate drought indicators--precipitation and stream flow--on a weekly basis during this warning stage. Ground water levels and reservoir levels will continue to be tracked monthly.
The City of Baltimore is preparing to tap the Susquehanna River next week as drought conditions have caused their reservoirs to drop to 61 percent of capacity. The City has asked residents to voluntarily restrict water use. Although the Potomac River is low for this time of year, flow is still sufficient to meet the needs of the metropolitan Washington area. Drought conditions are also impacting other community water systems, and several have imposed mandatory water use restrictions for their users.
Each Maryland county has an assigned drought coordinator to facilitate responses to changing hydrologic conditions and to promote public education about water conservation. MDE has been routinely updating the county drought coordinators as conditions change. Over the past several months, MDE has also promoted water conservation concepts at public events, and through radio spots aired by WBAL and WCEI. In addition, State facilities have been working since June of 2000 to assess their water use and develop plans to reduce water use by 10 percent by 2010. State facilities are now beginning to implement water conservation measures outlined in their plans. MDE has also requested large water utilities in Maryland to audit their water use and develop water conservation plans if their water losses exceed 10 percent of total water use.
Maryland citizens need to become increasingly aware of their water use at home and at work. MDE recommends that citizens take the following voluntary measures to decrease water use:
Repair leaky faucets, toilets or pipes
Replace conventional faucets and showerheads with water-efficient ones
Turn off the water while brushing your teeth or shaving
Only run your dishwasher or washing machine with a full load
Keep your shower to five minutes or less
For further information, please visit MDE’s website at: mde.maryland.gov/waterconservation.