State officials say it's due to a lack of precipitation this year.
The lack of snow this winter is having an affect on water supplies in the state. The Maryland Department of the Environment has put Western, Central and Eastern Maryland under a Drought Watch. That includes Frederick, Carroll and Washington Counties, and portions of Montgomery and Howard Counties not served by WSSC or the Baltimore City water system respectively.
"A Watch is really meant to put people on notice about the situation," says MDE spokesman Jay Apperson. "Obviously, we should be thinking about conserving water whenever we can every day. But when we are in a Drought Watch status, that particularly calls for people to conserve water anyway they can."
Right now, water supplies are getting very low across Maryland. "Since the start of the year across the state, the average precipitation level is 64% of normal," says Apperson.
MDE also says stream flow and groundwater levels are below normal in Maryland.
Apperson says a lot of it is due to the lack of snowfall this past winter. "The water year is measured starting in October. The reason for that is that the precipitation over the winter months, usually snow, that really helps to recharge the water supply. And, of course, we didn't have enough snow than we're used to seeing this winter," he says.
No water restrictions have been put in place as a result of the Drought Watch. MDE says it will increase its oversight of water supply conditions and encourage citizens to conserve water. Apperson says there's one important way to do that. "Repair leaks, and even look out for leaks and repair them when you find them. And use a broom, not a hose, to clean your driveway off," he says.
Other suggestions include installing low-consumption toilets, low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators; don't let the faucet flow while brushing your teeth or shaving; operate washing machines and dishwashers when they're full; limit watering to gardens, newly planted lawns and landscaped areas; and water your garden during the coolest time of the day,and not on windy days.
If the situation doesn't improve, MDE says it may have to issue a Drought Warning or an Emergency, which would require a declaration of a Drought Emergency by the Governor.
Other areas of Maryland which are under a Drought Watch are Garrett, Allegheny, Harford and Cecil Counties. Kent County and all jurisdictions on the Lower Eastern Shore remain under a Drought Watch.
The other areass of the state are classificed as Normal.