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Maryland State Government Maryland Department of the Environment

Responding to Drought

The Governor's Water Conservation Advisory Committee recommended the following actions for each drought stage.

Stage 1: Normal Conditions (Green)

  • MDE and public media implement a "Drought Index" public awareness campaign to provide citizens with regular updates about drought status (similar to Air Quality Index).
  • Media promotion of wise water use
  • Water systems develop and annually update drought plans as part of required Emergency Contingency Plans
  • Water systems develop ordinances for enforcing drought measures
  • Water systems initiate broad-based public education on water conservation
  • Water systems maintain accurate water monitoring and consumption records
  • Water systems monitor production on a daily basis and submit monthly reports to MDE
  • Water systems determine unaccounted water loss and implement leak detection and repair
  • Water systems develop and implement meter installation replacement and calibration programs
  • Homeowners repair leaks and drips
  • Homeowners install water conserving fixtures during new construction and building rehabilitation
  • Government facilities evaluate water use, identify and repair leaks, and install water conservation devices where appropriate
  • Business and industry develop water emergency plans to reduce water use by 10%
  • Business and industry develop and implement water conservation measures

Stage 2: Watch (Yellow)

5% - 10% Reduction Goal

  • MDE advises public, utilities, businesses and industry of changes to indicators, and initiates Statewide or regional "Drought Watch"
  • MDE notifies municipal and county governments, and other appropriate agencies of drought watch status.
  • Drought conditions evaluated biweekly
  • MDE media office works with local TV and radio stations to issue frequent drought updates to public
  • Verify contact information for local drought coordinators
  • MDE and water systems provide public with water conservation tips
  • MDE will increase monitoring of any problems incurred by water systems
  • MDE website updated every 2 weeks or more frequently as needed
  • Utilities or local governments may impose restrictions more stringent than the state guidelines
  • Water systems activate Water Conservation Plans
  • Water systems aggressively pursue leak detection surveys and repair programs
  • Reduce water usage for main flushing, street flushing, and park irrigation
  • Business and industries activate water emergency plans
  • Homeowners, government facilities, business and industry should reduce water use for irrigation purposes

Stage 3: Warning (Orange)

10% - 15% Reduction Goal

  • MDE notifies municipal and county governments, and other appropriate agencies of drought warning status
  • MDE and water systems advise public of changes to indicators and initiates Statewide or regional "Drought Warning"
  • Drought conditions evaluated on a weekly basis
  • Residences, businesses, and industry voluntarily comply with nonessential water use restrictions
  • MDE media office works with local TV and radio stations to issue periodic notification of drought measures, and to increase public awareness of water conservation
  • MDE continues to monitor problems incurred by water systems
  • MDE website updated weekly
  • Utilities or local governments may impose restrictions more stringent than the state guidelines
  • Water systems actively implement water conservation measures
  • Water systems individually contact industrial users to reduce water usage
  • Water systems discontinue flushing water lines, fire hydrants and distribution equipment
  • Facility managers for government buildings identify leaks and accelerate maintenance and/or repairs
  • Encourage business and industry to irrigate with treated wastewater in accordance with health guidelines

Stage 4: Emergency (Red)

15% - 20% Reduction Goal

  • Governor declares a "Drought Emergency" by executive order.
  • MDE notifies municipal and county governments, and other appropriate agencies of Drought Emergency status
  • Drought conditions evaluated at least weekly
  • Implement mandatory restrictions on nonessential water uses
  • MDE media office works with local TV and radio stations to issue daily drought updates to public
  • Establish Drought Hotline
  • Utilities or local governments may impose restrictions more stringent than the state guidelines
  • MDE website updated weekly or daily as needed
  • MDE and water systems notify consumers of severity of water shortage
  • Water systems conduct field surveillance of abuses, leaks, etc.
  • Local police and/or water systems execute enforcement of water conservation violators
  • Water systems verify availability of alternate water source or interconnection
  • Residences comply with mandatory nonessential water use restrictions
  • Business and industry comply with water conservation plans to reduce water use by at least 10%
  • Business and industry evaluate need for reduced hours of operation
   

Related Topics
Water Resource Management 
Water Conservation Homepage
Drought Monitoring and Response Plan
Variances and Exemptions
Enforcement Guidelines for Local Government, Police, and Sheriffs

What Can You Do?
Household Tips
Home Gardener Tips
Business and Industry Tips
Water Auditing

For More Information 
Please contact the Water Supply Program at water.supply@maryland.gov or 410-537-3702

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Related Topics

Water Conservation Homepage
Drought Monitoring and Response Plan
Governor's Advisory Committees
11/2000 Recommended Restrictions
Variances and Exemptions
Enforcement Guidelines for Local Government, Police, and Sheriffs

What can you do?

Household Tips
Home Gardener Tips
Business and Industry Tips
Water Auditing