MDE says it’s due to the small amount of precipitation this winter.
Baltimore, Md (KM). The water situation in Frederick County and surrounding jurisdictions has become very serious. The Maryland Department of the Environment has issued a drought warning for central Maryland, which includes not only Frederick County, but Carroll, Howard, Montgomery, Baltimore and Cecil Counties.
“We’re encouraging citizens and businesses to voluntarily reduce their water use. And at the same, we’re going to increase our evaluations in the monitoring that we do and we’re going to do even more of that,” says Jay Apperson, spokesman for MDE. “And we’re going to be working with the local water systems and the local drought response coordinators that are in the jurisdictions including Frederick County.”
He says MDE will issue updates each week on its website.
The Department says since September 30th, 2016, precipitation in central Maryland is 6.5-inches below normal, or 61% of normal rainfall. Water levels were much lower in February, 2017, compared to February, 2016. But MDE says they’re not as low as in February, 2002, the last significant drought in the state.
The agency uses the US Army Corps of Engineers’ definition of a drought which is “periods of time when natural or managed water systems do not provide enough water to meet established human and environmental uses because of natural shortfalls in precipitation or stream flow.”
Apperson says a number of factors also go into MDE’s decision to issue a drought warning. “Precipitation, obviously. Groundwater levels. Stream flows, and where appropriate, reservoir levels,” he says.
Right now, the state is only asking residents and businesses to voluntarily conserve water. Apperson says water conservation tips can be found on MDE’s website. (http://bit.ly/MDdrought.)
In addition to the drought warning, the Frederick County Fire Marshal’s Office has banned all outdoor burning, including recreational fires, until further notice due to the dry conditions. The Department of Natural Resources says the forest fire danger in Frederick County is very high.
MDE says the Eastern Shore remains under a drought watch.
Water levels in areas served by the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission and Baltimore City public water remain at normal levels.
By Kevin McManus