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Water use restrictions dropped for mud bog

August 12, 1999|By SCOTT BUTKI

BROWNSVILLE - Statewide mandatory water restrictions have been waived for a Frederick County volunteer fire company that wants to use 20,000 gallons of quarry water to stage a mud bog in southern Washington County later this month.

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Washington County officials, however, want the 11th annual Pleasant Valley Frog Eye Mud Bog delayed indefinitely.

David Barnhart, drought coordinator for the Washington County Health Department, waived the restrictions Thursday, paving the way for the Brunswick Volunteer Fire Co. to hold its main annual fund-raiser, a muddy truck race, on Aug. 29 at a private farm near Brownsville.

The fire company was granted a waiver because it argued it would suffer an extreme financial hardship if it could not hold the event, Barnhart said.

"In essence, we bought their story," he said. The Health Department, which has jurisdiction over quarries, is a state agency that receives some funding from the county.

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Before going to Barnhart, the fire company was told it could not get water from its usual supplier, the town of Brunswick in neighboring Frederick County.

The company usually makes about $18,000 from the mud bog after expenses, said Freda Leopold, who was speaking for her husband, Charles, the fire company president. Several thousand people usually turn out to watch about 100 people compete in the race, she said.

Canceling the event would cost the company about $8,000 since T-shirts and trophies have already been purchased, Freda Leopold said.

Washington County Commissioner Paul L. Swartz wants the event delayed, saying it does not make sense to impose state water restrictions if such large exemptions are made.

County Administrator Rodney Shoop, at the suggestion of Swartz, said he would call the Leopolds this morning. He said he will explain that the county does not have any authority on this issue but that he thinks the event should be delayed until the water restrictions are lifted.

Freda Leopold has been fielding calls from local radio and television stations on the matter, which had drawn media attention around the country. She said she would not, however, talk to Shoop about the requested delay.

Shoop will have to talk to her husband, she said.

"He is not going to be too happy," Freda Leopold said.

Barnhart refused to identify which Washington County quarry has agreed to supply water for the mud bog.

Freda Leopold said she understands why people would be upset that water could be used for a mud bog but not to water lawns or wash cars, she said.

But she said she believes people can understand the importance of the company raising funds.

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