Maryland is now under a drought watch and the state encourages limiting water use.
“Water conservation is a good practice year-round,” said Jay Apperson, a spokesperson for the Maryland Department of the Environment. “At this time, the Maryland Department of the Environment is urging the citizens and businesses of western Maryland and parts of central Maryland to voluntarily reduce their water use.”
It's not required, but Apperson said these cuts would go a long way.
The watch has been issued for Allegany, Baltimore, Carroll, Cecil, Frederick, Garrett, Harford, Howard, Montgomery, and Washington counties. But there are some exceptions.
Areas served by the Baltimore City public water systems or the Washington Suburban Sanitation Commission are not considered under the same surveillance conditions.
In Montgomery County, it is the second driest year to date and it was the fifth driest May on record this year.
The state said it has enough water to meet the needs of residents and businesses, but conservation measures are recommended to help prevent future shortages that could materialize if current conditions continue.
“You may have noticed that it has rained a bit lately, but that is not enough to reduce the rainfall deficit that we have seen,” Apperson explained, noting that up to this point, rainfall has been much less compared to this time. last year.
How can people in affected areas change their behaviors to help?
“Use sprinklers or water your lawn and garden less frequently,” Apperson said. "Take shorter showers."
She also suggests running dishwashers and washing machines only when they are absolutely full/at maximum capacity, rather than doing multiple small loads of laundry or dishes.
The last time rainfall levels were dangerously low, according to the state's Current Conditions and Drought Information website, was in 2017-2018, when southern Maryland was considered to be in emergency conditions.
The last severe drought in the state occurred between 1999 and 2002.
Based on the state's updated drought map, nearly 37% of the state is considered to be in moderate drought at this time, with another 30.4% designated as "abnormally dry."
The state's precipitation gauges show western and central Maryland at 75% and 70% of their normal precipitation as of December 31, respectively, compared to previous years.
Groundwater indicators show low levels in both western and central Maryland, with five of nine wells at "warning" levels and two of nine wells considered at "emergency" low water levels.
Although not everything is bad. Since June 30, rainfall levels have increased considerably, to 90% or more of normal levels. If those conditions continue, the clock may be up sooner rather than later.
But the National Weather Service said dry conditions across the country will likely last until 2023, with some improvements recently due to increased rainfall.