It didn't win approval from Frederick County's volunteer fire companies, but Commissioner Mark Hoke's proposal to have firefighters haul water to drought-parched farm fields did get us thinking about the problem that seems to plague this region year after year. We're speaking about rainfall, or lack of it. Sometimes the region gets too much; at other times, like now, we don't get enough.
When there's too much rain in too short a time, we get flash floods that damage roads and bridges and in some cases, take lives. When there's not enough, towns must restrict water usage and crops shrivel in the fields. If only we could save some of those heavy rains for the dry times.
It's not impossible, but it probably wouldn't be cheap. The Bloomington Dam, built on the upper Potomac, cost $100 million in the early 1970s; a similar dam might cost twice that today.
What holds more promise, at a lower cost, is something Rep. Roscoe Bartlett suggested in a meeting with the Corps of Engineers - a series of smaller ponds and impoundments. Directing water to them through storm drain systems, instead of allowing it to flow away quickly and swell streams and the river, would not only minimize flood damage, but also provide a water reserve that farmers and/or municipalities could draw on in dry times.