Burn ban exempts Antietam re-enactors

September 11, 2002|by PEPPER BALLARD

The Washington County Commissioners Tuesday agreed to put into effect an outdoor burning ban, but exempted the re-enactors on hand for the 140th anniversary re-enactment of the Battle of Antietam.

The commissioners also agreed to consider water restrictions after Washington County Agricultural Extension Agent Don Schwartz gave them a report from the county's Drought Coordinating Committee.

Schwartz said that recent rains did not make up for the shortfall caused by the continuing drought.

The commissioners voted unanimously to impose an outdoor burning ban but agreed to make an exception for those participating in the re-enactment this weekend.


Emergency Services Department Director Joe Kroboth said that thousands of Civil War re-enactors will be encamped on the Artz farm with no way to cook should they be included in the ban.

The burning ban prohibits campfires, warming fires and fire training exercises, Washington County Health Department Director of Environmental Health Laurie G. Bucher said.

The ban follows last week's decision by the Maryland Department of the Environment to downgrade the county's status from a normal drought status to a drought watch.

Schwartz said the drought committee wants Washington County to be treated separately from the rest of Western Maryland, because conditions here are drier than in the westernmost part of the state.

"The central part of Maryland is really nasty," Schwartz said. He said Washington County's drought is more on a pace with that region.

Schwartz said Hagerstown is operating on one water treatment plant due to a low recharge level at the Edgemont Reservoir. He also said Mount Aetna Springs has lost flow and mandatory conservation is in effect and Brook Lane is purchasing half its required water supply at about 4,000 gallons a day.

The Potomac is running at a good level, which provides half the county with its water supply, he said.

Schwartz said 81 years of records at Antietam Creek show the creek is running at an all-time low of 50 cubic feet per second. That is half of what it usually runs this time of year, he said.

The drought committee plans to check the dwindling water supply at area wells and creeks and present its findings to the commissioners on Sept. 24.

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