Lifting of drought restrictions surprises local leaders

September 01, 1999|By SCOTT BUTKI

Local government leaders expressed surprise Wednesday that Gov. Parris Glendening had lifted water-use restrictions he imposed four weeks ago, but some area residents were pleased by the news.

[cont. from front page]

Hagerstown City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman said he will abide by the governor's decision to end the restrictions for the city's 75,000 water customers.

"We will follow his direction, and it will be one less thing we have to administer," Zimmerman said.

Glendening imposed statewide water-use regulations on Aug. 4 to conserve water during one of the worst droughts Maryland has faced in this century.

Washington County Water and Sewer Director Greg Murray said he is glad the governor feels there has been enough rain to warrant lifting the statewide restrictions.


Locally, however, enough rain has not fallen for mandatory water restrictions to be lifted in the Mount Aetna and Highfield areas, he said. Those restrictions were imposed in late July and do not affect the rest of the county's 1,500 water users.

He said that since the drought conditions remain, he hopes residents will continue to voluntarily conserve water.

Murray and Washington County Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook said they were surprised that Glendening removed nearly all of the restrictions at this time.

"I would say that I think we still need to watch our water supply, because the Potomac River is still low. Hopefully we will still get some more rain," Snook said.

Water use in both the city and county has dropped more than 10 percent since the restrictions went into effect, according to Murray and Hagerstown Water Department Manager Gene V. Walzl.

Edwin Hayes had two reactions to the news - one as president of the Washington County Board of Education, and one as a Williamsport farmer.

"Speaking as a School Board member, I think that's great," he said.

The School Board cut back on watering athletic fields because of the restrictions and can now reconsider that decision, he said.

As a farmer, he does not think nearly enough rain has fallen for the drought to be considered history, he said.

"I don't think our drought in Washington County is over yet," he said.

Jimmy Sprecher of Hagerstown, who works for the Antietam Fire Co., also questioned whether the governor acted prematurely.

Despite that, he said he is happy he can wash his car again.

That realization also pleased Jerry Cunningham and Kim Reed of Hagerstown.

"It's good because everyone's car is dirty," Cunningham said.

"I like it. My car needs it (washing)," said Reed. "It's nasty."

"I'm glad it is going to be lifted so we can use water again," said Albert Bussard.

The Herald-Mail Articles