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Residents get resourceful during drought

August 14, 1999|By JULIE E. GREENE

Dwight Hoffman spent Saturday afternoon sweeping his front sidewalk and the portion of South Antietam Street in front of his Funkstown home.

Normally, Hoffman would have been hosing down the area and cleaning off his front porch, but water restrictions ordered by Maryland Gov. Parris N. Glendening last Wednesday forbid such water usage during this prolonged drought.

"Everything's so dirty and dusty," said Hoffman, 39, who lives at the corner of Maple Street.

Hoffman did manage to wash his steps and part of the porch with rain water he caught in a bucket sitting under the drainage spout.

Like many Washington County residents, Hoffman used bath water to water flowers in his yard.

The restrictions forbid watering lawns, washing streets, roads, sidewalks, driveways, buildings and garages, and washing cars except by professional car washes. Residents may water their gardens using watering cans or a handheld hose.

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Phyllis Wisherd left eight buckets outside her East Irvin Avenue home in Hagerstown to catch rain water to water plants. Added together they amounted to half a bucket of water, she said.

However, Wisherd prevailed by using rinse water from her weekly wash, which smelled like Downy, to help a friend water her trees.

"They really haven't had a good drink for two months," Wisherd said.

Troy Sahaydak, 32, of Funkstown, said his family hasn't washed any of their cars or trucks, is taking shorter showers, and is letting the dishes pile up before washing them.

"Just trying to do our part. It hasn't been too much of a hindrance," Sahaydak said.

Linda Eckstine, of East Maple Street in Funkstown, said plants she recently transplanted look a little sick.

Still, Eckstine said, "I don't think this area is feeling it as much as other areas are." She said local farmers might disagree.

Jacob Poffenberger, 60, of Funkstown, returned from vacation in Williamsburg, Va., on Saturday to discover the water restrictions.

"We don't really use much water anyway. We got the car washed coming back - rain washed," Poffenberger said.

Gladys Boward, 71, of Halfway, and her sister, Edith Beeler, 74, of Hagerstown, said they don't flush their toilets as often to conserve water.

"I don't like that part, but it's just myself (at home)," Beeler said.

The sisters also wash dishes and clothes less frequently.

Boward said she used rain water caught in a tub to water her remaining tomato plants. She had to throw out some tomato plants because they were burning up.

Mary Rogers, 49, of Heisterboro Road in Halfway, prepared her garage door for painting by washing it with water from her dehumidifier.

She also used some of the dehumidifier water to water a small rose bush she's trying to save.

Inez Winfield, 79, of Smithsburg, said she's used to conserving water.

"That's the way I was raised," said the Bishop Lane resident.

As a girl, Winfield lived on a Frederick County farm with a spring that went dry in the summer, so her family had to carry water to their home.

Winfield saves her dishwater for the flowers and hand-washes clothes as she needs them. The water left after washing clothes is used to clean the floors, she said.

Ruth Eckstine, of Delaware, said she's not against water restrictions.

"I think people waste water today," said Eckstine, who was visiting her mother-in-law in Smithsburg. She said her mother-in-law, Alice Eckstine, saved the bath water for her flowers.

Not everyone thought the water restrictions were a good idea.

Kevin L. Spielman, 35, of Hagerstown, said he thinks they are "ridiculous."

"I don't think it's Western Maryland's problem," he said.

Spielman said he's conserving water because he's out of hot water.

"Cold showers are real quick," he said.

Roland Faulders, 42, of Whispering Hills, said he doesn't think the water restrictions are fair. Faulders said he should be able to wash his own car rather than take it to a car wash and pay to have it cleaned.

Mike Mimnall, 42, of Sycamore Heights, said he was glad the state lifted the restrictions on watering athletic fields.

"You've got to take care of athletic fields," said Mimnall, watching the Smithsburg High School football team practice.

While the school's main field is in great condition, the practice field is never watered so it is hard, Mimnall said.

"It's hard as rock. That don't bother them kids. They heal quick," he said.

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