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Drought Forces Water Restrictions

August 4, 1999

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) _ Maryland’s governor banned lawn watering and home car washing Wednesday to help conserve the state’s water supply, which is shrinking in the drought devastating the East.

The state’s 5 million residents could face fines of up to $1,000 if they don’t heed the water restrictions, the first statewide mandatory measures in the Northeast.

``We urge everyone to work with us,″ Gov. Parris Glendening said. ``This is a time to pull together and head off what could be a serious crisis.″

The restrictions also ban hosing down streets or sidewalks, running ornamental fountains and filling or topping off private swimming pools.

Gardens may be watered, but only with watering cans or handheld hose. Commercial car washing is allowed only in facilities where at least 80 percent of the water is recycled.

And restaurants aren’t supposed to serve water unless customers specifically ask for it.

Businesses were asked to voluntarily reduce water use by 10 percent, and golf courses must reduce water usage by 80 percent.

Elsewhere in the Northeast, Delaware, Pennsylvania and New Jersey either have declared drought emergencies or are in the process of doing so. All of West Virginia has been declared a drought disaster and Virginia is seeking the same designation for parts of that state.

Pennsylvania’s governor imposed mandatory restrictions in 55 of the state’s counties, but compliance remains voluntary in the remaining 12. Farther west, Ohio Gov. Bob Taft has asked people in the eastern part of his state to voluntarily limit water usage.

Rainfall in the Baltimore area for the 12-month period ending July 31 was more than a foot and a half below normal. The city’s reservoirs only hold a 35- to 60-day supply of water.

``If they need some kind of relief, it’s going almost take a tropical storm,″ said James Newkirk of the National Weather Service.

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