- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 31, 2002

RICHMOND Virginia Gov. Mark R. Warner banned lawn watering, residential car-washing and filling of most swimming pools in much of the state yesterday because of the severe drought.
Only Northern Virginia and the southwestern tip of Virginia were exempted from the executive order, which formally makes the drought a state civil emergency.
It comes despite several days of rain that have failed to ease the lingering drought that has devastated hundreds of millions of dollars worth of crops and left some localities with only a few days supply of water.
"Some Virginians may say, 'Well, why now?'" said Mr. Warner, a Democrat. "The fact is a few days of rain don't alleviate what has been a three-year drought condition. We don't need to be lulled into a false sense of security that the drought has passed us."
Commercial carwashes are exempt from the new state ban as is watering shrubbery, landscaping and food gardens. Golf courses may water tees and greens only, and then just at night. Swimming pools that health care facilities use for therapy also are exempt.
Penalties and policing, however, are up to localities, and not all of them have imposed any restrictions or fines for violators. Mr. Warner said he is encouraging cities and counties in the watering-ban area to enact penalties.
He also said he expects peer pressure to play a role. In Richmond suburbs that already have imposed limits, residents who are abiding by the rules have turned in neighbors who weren't.
"These efforts are going to be successful because of peer pressure from neighbors in terms of we're all in this together," Mr. Warner said.
An area of exceptional drought the most severe category currently extends from central Virginia down through the heart of the Carolinas into central Georgia.
Mr. Warner and his newly appointed drought coordinator, Deputy Natural Resources Secretary David Paylor, said the restrictions come as the mid-Atlantic region faces months of continued dry weather and the prospect of wildfires in tinder-dry forests.
"When we get leaf fall, then there's a potential for forest fires and we have a concern about where the water comes from. If you don't have the water in the ponds, then it's hard to get the helicopter bucket into the pond," Mr. Paylor said.

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