A look at how the drought is affecting Tri-State municipalities

September 02, 2002

The following is a glance at the effects of the drought on municipalities in the Tri-State area:


Washington County

The county is no longer under a drought warning. However, local government officials in the county and most of the towns are encouraging people to conserve.


The city shut down its secondary water plant near Smithsburg in late August because the streams were not replenishing the Edgemont Reservoir fast enough. Rains this past week raised the reservoir level 2 feet so it is only 6 feet below normal, said Chris Bordlemay, water production superintendent. The reservoir is closer to being ready for use again.

The Potomac River feeds the city's main water plant near Williamsport. While the river's level has been low, it is not critical, Water Department Manager Gene Walzl said.


City officials are not ordering mandatory water restrictions yet, but they could, Walzl said.

Mount Aetna

Voluntary restrictions are in effect, Washington County Water and Sewer Director Greg Murray said.

With school starting at Highland View Academy and Mount Aetna Elementary School, consumption will increase so county officials are monitoring the situation to see if mandatory restrictions are needed.

Sharpsburg, Highfield, Sandy Hook, Elk Ridge

Water is supplied by Washington County. The Water and Sewer Department has asked residents to voluntarily conserve water.


The town's water supply, which comes from two wells, is in "good shape," said Town Manager Lou Close. Residents are asked to voluntarily conserve water.

Boonsboro, Keedysville

Water levels are down, but sufficient. Boonsboro Town Administrator Eldon Jones said the water table is more than 18 feet below normal. The water supply comes from two wells and from Keedysville and Warrenfeltz springs.

Residents have been asked to voluntarily conserve water. This includes not washing cars, driveways and sidewalks and using a watering can to water outdoor plants rather than a hose.

Clear Spring

The town is served by three wells that empty into a reservoir, where the water level is reported to be lower than normal, but stable. Voluntary water conservation measures are in effect. The town has cut off sales to bulk water haulers.

The town's spring is still dry, but it is not a public water supply.

Williamsport, Funkstown, Smithsburg

All three towns get their water from Hagerstown. Residents are asked to be "conscientious" about water use.

Frederick County

The county is under a drought emergency. As of Aug. 27, the state has ordered Level II mandatory restrictions.

This includes no watering of lawns except for supervised watering for 21 days following installation. Outdoor plants, trees and shrubs may be watered with a handheld container or hose with an automatic shut off between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m.

Power washing, car washing, topping off pools and filling existing pools are prohibited at residences.

The county's water system and private wells are under Level II restrictions, said Roy Rowland, county superintendent of water and wastewater operations.

The county's water is supplied by the Potomac River, Lake Linganore and 15 wells. Both the lake and river were low.


The city's reservoirs, Lake Linganore and Fishing Creek, were down to approximately a 35- to 46-day supply as of Thursday, city spokeswoman Nancy Poss said.

The Monocacy River also has been low. An attempt to install an inflatable dam at the river on Aug. 24 was postponed due to recent rain raising the water level. Once the river level falls below 50 cubic feet per second that will be tried again. The dam would divert water opposite from the city's intake pipe, where water is flowing more strongly, to go by the intake pipe.

The city also gets a daily supply of water from the county and hopes that will increase as county residents conserve water, Poss said.

The worst-case scenario option could call for trucking in water, Poss said.

The city has had a moratorium on construction since March.

If the city's water situation does not improve with the latest state mandatory restrictions, city officials will consider moving to Level III restrictions, Poss said.

The city's Level II restrictions, in effect since July 8, are more stringent than the state's in some cases. No watering of lawns is allowed. Water is not allowed to be trucked in. Gray water and rainwater may be used to water gardens.


Thurmont has more strict mandatory water restrictions than the state, Water Treatment Plant Superintendent Gary Dingle said. The town is at Stage III in its water shortage policy and ordinance, with stage IV being an emergency state.

Basically, outside water use is prohibited, Dingle said. Watering lawns, power washing and washing of blacktop, concrete and housing are prohibited.

Buckets of recycled water may be used to water gardens, trees and shrubs, but hoses and water from the town's water supply are prohibited from being used for that purpose.

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