Drought has forced changes in habits

March 11, 2002|BY ANDREW SCHOTZ

The threat of a diminishing water supply is changing some people's habits, according to a sample of Tri-State residents surveyed Friday.

Janet Gordon, 56, of Antrim Township, Pa., no longer changes the sheets on her bed every week, which cuts down on the laundry.

Travis Knode, 70, a bus driver for the Greencastle-Antrim School District in Franklin County, Pa., said he and his fellow drivers stopped washing their buses.

After Diana Fishell, 45, who lives between Hagerstown and Smithsburg, washes a pan, she'll dump the water outside instead of down the drain, which helps the grass and plants.


"I try to shorten my shower time, which is hard to do," said Peggy Lentz of Berkeley County, W.Va.

Water is becoming increasingly scarce in Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and other Eastern Seaboard states.

Franklin County, Pa., residents are under a state order to use less water.

Berkeley County has imposed mandatory restrictions.

Washington County officials have asked users to be frugal.

Conservation pleas appear to be having an effect.

Gary Dodds, 38, who lives outside Hagerstown, has cut his showers from 12 minutes to five minutes.

"I don't use too much water anyway," he said, "but that's what I'm doing."

Edna Miller, 66, of Greencastle, Pa., said she's stopped taking showers. "You use a lot less water when you take a bath," she said.

"We're letting our lawn die," said Elaine McLaughlin, 56, of Martinsburg, W.Va.

"I am always in a saving mode ...," said Francesco Visone of Martinsburg. "I don't wash the car or pets, and I don't water the lawn. I am pretty well aware of the problem."

"We're not washing cars and stuff," said Adam Weber, 20, who lives west of Clear Spring.

Amanda Werry, 21, of Hagerstown, considers washing her car at home "out of the ordinary."

"My car is filthy," she said.

Some people are trying not to waste a drop.

When Martinsburg resident George French bathes, he turns the off water when he lathers himself with soap. He turns the water back on when he's ready to rinse off.

Gordon, of Antrim Township, saves cold water in a bucket as she waits for water from her faucet to heat up.

Carole Fisher, 55, of State Line, Pa., collects the rinse cycle water from her washing machine and uses it for the next load. "I can do that because my machine empties into a sink," she said.

Miller, from Greencastle, keeps half of her dish water and refills the sink with hot water when she's ready to wash another load.

"I know some people laugh at me," she said, "but I think this is serious. I think we're in trouble."

"All I can tell you is that we need rain desperately," said John Wishard, 42, of Greencastle, who only washes dishes when his sink is full.

Shane Simon, 25, thought he had escaped water problems when he and his family moved to Waynesboro, Pa., last year.

In California, where he lived before, residents were supposed to wash clothes at night, to avoid a daytime rush on water. Now, in Franklin County, he can't wash his car and faces other restrictions.

Karen Price, 55, of Falling Waters, W.Va., said she is used to conserving water "in small ways" - washing only full loads in her dishwasher, watering her garden by hand and turning the faucet off while brushing her teeth.

Mary Lynn Evans, 50, of Clear Spring uses some of the same water-saving techniques.

"Basically, the basics," she said.

Of the people surveyed, those who get water from wells were less likely to be worried.

Weber, Evans and Price all reported good output from their wells.

Joyce Krause, 61, of Funkstown, said her well, 108 feet deep, used to pump 500 gallons a minute, and hasn't dwindled much, if at all.

"We can't tell that it's even down," she said.

Fishell said her well is fine, "but we're just a little nervous."

Seibert Milburn, 65, said the spring from which he draws water in Keedysville is "holding up," so he hasn't had to cut back.

A few others said they haven't noticed a difference in their lives during the ongoing drought.

Ken Possert, 28, of Hedgesville, W.Va., said he's rarely home, so a shower and a drink of water is about all that he needs.

If local governments clamp down on water usage, "I'll just live with a dirty car," said Megan Beyard, 19, of Boonsboro.

"I haven't been using that much," said Pat McGhee, 45, of Hagerstown. "I'm just a normal person."

Evelyn Muehleisen of Martinsburg lives in an apartment and doesn't have a car, plants or a yard. As a general practice, she said, her showers are quick.

Jerome Summers, 65, of Hagerstown, said he uses water sparingly. But when the weather gets hotter, it might mean more showers, he said - especially now that he's resumed lifting weights after a recent illness slowed him down.

Two showers have been part of Jarrett Bywaters' daily routine. He said his job at World Kitchen in Greencastle leaves him dirty.

Bywaters, 21, of Chambersburg, Pa., knew about the drought on Friday, but not the water restrictions in his county. When he found out, he vowed to scale back to one shower a day.

What if it came to skipping showers altogether some days?

"I don't want to think about that," he said. "It could be ugly."

- Staff Writers Richard F. Belisle and Sarah Mullin contributed to this story.

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