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County should embrace water conservation call

August 29, 2002|by BOB MAGINNIS

Most of new restrictions on water use announced this week by Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening exempt the state's three westernmost counties, but Washington County should embrace them anyway. In the unlikely event that they turn out to be unnecessary, they can be rescinded later.

A call for conservation is hardly a radical idea at this point, for a couple of reasons.

Last week the superintendents of the Washington County and Hagerstown water systems repeated an earlier call for voluntary conservation.

At the same time, a report done by the Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin suggests that without better management of upstream water resources, the Potomac River might not be able to fulfill the Washington, D.C. area's needs by 2030.

Glendening is ordering businesses to cut water use by 10 percent and banning residents from watering their lawns and washing cars. Outdoor burning was also banned in every county but Garrett and farmers were given new incentives to plant cover crops after the harvest.

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In an editorial which ran last Friday, we passed along several conservation suggestions from the State of Pennsylvania, including installing low-flow shower heads and sink aerators, which can cut water use in half, and purchasing front-load washing machines, which use half as much water as top loaders.

Other possibilities: Planting new varieties of lawn grass and shrubs that can stand drought, and throwing water from the dish pan onto the lawn instead of pouring it down the drain. And if you don't have a water-saving toilet, place a weighted plastic bottle in the tank to cut water use, since toilet flushing can account for 40 percent of household water use.

None of these measures are difficult or a great burden on citizens. They only seem that way to some because for so long water has been so abundant citizens could take it for granted. It may be that way again in the future, but for now, everyone needs to use less so that all will have what they need.

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