County supports statewide water restrictions

August 10, 1999

Brush FireBy SCOTT BUTKI / Staff Writer

photo: RIC DUGAN / staff photographer

The Washington County Commissioners agreed Tuesday to send Gov. Parris Glendening a letter supporting statewide mandatory water restrictions even though two commissioners called the rules "hypocritical" because of exceptions for some users.

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Commissioners William J. Wivell and Paul L. Swartz said it is unfair for businesses and governments to get exemptions.

The County Commissioners also instructed Farmland Preservation Administrator Eric Seifarth to work with the local delegation to the Maryland General Assembly to prepare for the possibility of using the National Guard to import water and hay to local farmers.

About 24 wells have run dry on Washington County farms and crop farmers are expecting a 50 percent yield, Seifarth said. The approximately 50,000 cows in the county soon will need hay, he said.


Glendening must approve the use of the National Guard to bring in water and hay from other states, including Wisconsin and Minnesota, Seifarth said.

Glendening imposed water restrictions in an Aug. 4 executive order. Two days later, the state modified some of the restrictions, granting exemptions that allow car washes to keep operating even if they are not using recycled water and granting permission for athletic fields to be watered.

It seems unfair to ask residents to make sacrifices when the state restrictions allow golf courses, including the county's Black Rock Golf Course, to water tees and greens and allow school districts to water athletic fields, Wivell said.

"It seems hypocritical to me," he said.

Commissioner Paul L. Swartz agreed and said the county should consider being a model for the rest of the state by having even more stringent water restrictions.

Later in the day, at a joint meeting with the Washington County Board of Education, Swartz said he thought the county should take a stand and not water the school system's seven athletic fields.

Schools Superintendent Herman G. Bartlett said the district is meeting the state requirements by cutting water use by 50 percent. The fields will be watered only during the night instead of in the daytime and at night as they usually are.

If the fields aren't watered they become hard and unsafe, Board of Education Athletic Supervisor Eugene "Yogi" Martin, said Tuesday.

Gerald Ditto, a Clear Spring-area farmer and president of the Washington County Farm Bureau, asked why some county residents, including farmers, should suffer during the drought while exceptions are made for athletic fields and car washes.

"If this is so severe is that absolutely necessary?" he asked.

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