County Remains Under Drought Watch

Drought conditions persist in Worcester
County, as precipitation
levels are still below normal for the last 12 months, but county staff say that
water levels are in fair shape.

“They were slow to recover this
year,” Public Works Deputy Director John Ross said. “We’re still concerned. It
hasn’t rained really a lot this spring. We haven’t had any Nor’easters this
year or anything like that.”

County wells are a few feet low
right now, Ross said, but the wells typically have 125 to 150 feet of water in

“We’re okay. We’re watching it,”
he said.

According to the U.S. Drought
Monitor, updated two weeks ago, southern Worcester
County is still in a state of severe
drought, while north Worcester
County is in a state of
moderate drought.

Worcester County, along with 14 other Maryland
counties, are also under a Maryland
drought watch, the first level of the state drought management plan, according
to the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE).

At this level, MDE monitors the
water supply more closely and asks Marylanders to use water carefully and to
conserve water when possible.

“We’re always pushing water
conservation,” Ross said. “They’re not making any more water. Whatever’s there
is all we got.”

Scarce rainfall in summer 2007
created one of the worst droughts seen in years, and the winter’s precipitation
has not entirely replaced the lack.

“We were concerned in January
but in February and March we did get rain,” Ross said.

Worcester County saw
well water levels drop in summer 2007, but not by amounts significant enough to
trigger restrictions.

The county did refrain from the
twice yearly water main flushing in the fall, but will continue as usual with
the spring water main flushing.

Water restrictions enacted in
August are still in place in Berlin.

People still need to keep a
careful watch on lawn and garden irrigation, Ross said, as it is easy to use a
lot of water quickly.

Conservation rate pricing has
reduced water usage in the county since it was introduced in 2002. Water usage
in Ocean Pines over the Fourth of July week, for example, has gone down by 20
percent since then.

The exception to the more
careful water use is the Glen Riddle development, said Ross, which is using a
lot of water to establish lawns and gardens.

Ross said he could not predict
whether the upcoming summer will be dry like last year.