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All citizens must cooperate in water-conservation effort

August 23, 2002|by BOB MAGINNIS

As the City of Frederick makes plans to truck in 4 million gallons of water a day in the midst of a drought more severe than any Maryland has seen, it's time to look at some changes citizens might soon be forced to embrace.

Anyone who doubts the state is in a drought need only listen to Wendy McPherson, a hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, who said that "this is a drought like we've never seen." The National Weather Service says it's the driest summer since they started keeping records in 1871.

Since September of last year, Baltimore Washington International Airport is 18 inches lower than normal and Baltimore's three reservoirs are only half full, something that hasn't happened since the 1960s.

Baltimore has banned car washing, lawn watering and related activities, but so far hasn't asked its commercial operators to cut back their usage, fearing that to do so would put companies and jobs in jeopardy.

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So it follows then that the more water conserved, the more there will be for the companies that need water to do business. If you're on a well, restricting water use may prevent the well from going dry and spare the homeowner the costly process of having a new, deeper well drilled.

Beyond the common-sense conservation methods - like not letting the water run as you brush your teeth, for example - there are other methods that can effectively cut water use, according to materials available from the State of Pennsylvania.

Low-flow toilets are already mandated in new construction, but other items like low-flow shower heads and sink spigot aerators can cut water use in half, as can a front loading clothes washer, which uses 22 gallons per load, versus 40 for a top-loader.

If everyone voluntarily cut water use, the plight of citizens like this in Frederick could be eased significantly. It would be unfortunate if citizens decided not to do what they could now, because waiting might force officials to make future restrictions even tighter.

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