- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 22, 2002

Tankers will arrive around the clock

FREDERICK, Md. (AP) Officials in Maryland's second-largest city, left with little more than a month's supply of water, are making plans to truck in as much as 4 million gallons of water a day.
The plans are being made as forecasters announced the past 11 months have been the driest in the Baltimore area since record keeping began in 1871.
Tentative plans in Frederick call for up to 20 water tankers to arrive each hour, 24 hours a day, at the cost of a "small fortune," Mayor Jennifer Dougherty said Tuesday.
"We need three to four days of steady rain to relieve the pinch for the remainder of this month," Mrs. Dougherty said.
"That ain't going to happen," said National Weather Service meteorologist Dewey Walston. "I would not put much hope in getting significant rain within the next 30 days."
The 90-day outlook doesn't look much better because the El Nino weather pattern is promising below-normal hurricane activity in the tropics and lower-than-normal rainfall through autumn in the mid-Atlantic region.
"It doesn't look very good for the way the drought is going. It is not going to go away and is probably going to get worse," Mr. Walston said.
Mrs. Dougherty pledged to provide water to residents no matter what happens.
"People are not going to be without water because we will find a way to get them water," the mayor said.
The Monocacy River, the source of 40 percent of the water consumed by the city of Frederick, is approaching record lows set in 1966.
"We used to pull about 3 million gallons per day from the Monocacy," said Marc Stachowski, the city's drought coordinator. "We'll be lucky to get 1 million."
The city, which had a 40-day supply of water as of Tuesday, also is negotiating agreements with Frederick County and the Lake Linganore Association to preserve the Lake Linganore reservoir, the city's primary water source.
Frederick's water supply also has been strained by the city's rapid growth, including a 30 percent population increase between 1990 and 2000. The city stopped accepting new development plans in March 2001 and stopped issuing building permits early this year.
Increased water use restrictions under consideration in Frederick include a mandatory requirement for residents to reduce water consumption by 10 percent. Businesses were mandated to cut water use by 10 percent under the restrictions imposed July 9 by the mayor. Restrictions imposed April 5 by Gov. Parris N. Glendening throughout central Maryland, including Frederick, urged residents to reduce water use by 10 percent, but compliance was voluntary.
Other restrictions under consideration would extend the weekday ban on power washing to include weekends and implement a complete ban on topping off swimming pools to include public and community pools.
The National Weather Service, meanwhile, said the September-to-mid-August period in Baltimore has been the driest since record-keeping began in 1871.
Rain has not fallen for two weeks at Baltimore-Washington International Airport, and none is forecast until Saturday at the earliest. Groundwater levels and stream flows in much of the state are falling below record lows set during historic droughts in the 1930s and 1960s.
"This is a drought like we've never seen," said hydrologist Wendy McPherson at the U.S. Geological Survey in Baltimore.
Since Sept. 1, 2001, BWI has recorded 23.86 inches of precipitation, more than 18 inches below normal. BWI has had less than an inch of rainfall since July 27.
The water volume in Baltimore's three reservoirs, which stood at 53 percent of capacity when mandatory curbs were imposed on Aug. 10, has fallen to 49 percent, a level not seen at least since the 1960s, city officials said.
Since mandatory bans on lawn watering, car washing and other activities went into effect Aug. 10, average daily water consumption has declined by almost 10 percent, said Kurt L. Kocher, a spokesman for the city Department of Public Works.
Baltimore has not ordered commercial water users to curb consumption. If it does, large commercial users will be ordered to cut consumption by 10 percent.
"You have to make sure you don't hinder the economy of the city, that you don't infringe on people's livelihoods," Mr. Kocher said.
"I'd say we're closer than not" to going into the next phase, he added. "If it doesn't rain, it's a good possibility."


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