Dry conditions have been sticking around in the D.C. region for some time, prompting Maryland to draw increased attention to the issue by announcing Wednesday that parts of the state would be placed in the “drought warning” category.
There had already been a “drought watch” in effect from earlier in the summer.
“We’re elevating that to a warning,” said Dave Abrams, a spokesman for the Maryland Department of the Environment. “I wouldn’t say the conditions have gotten worse, they’ve just persisted.”
Western Montgomery County is in the warning zone, as are Baltimore, Carroll, Cecil, Frederick, Harford and Howard counties.
The warning is based on lower-than-normal stream flows and groundwater levels for this time of year.
A drought watch remains in place for Allegany, Garrett and Washington counties.
“There are no mandatory water restrictions in place right now,” Abrams said. “It’s mostly a message to water systems to make sure that they have all the precautions in place just in case.”
While the state currently has enough water to meet the needs of residents and businesses, water conservation measures are encouraged to help avoid any future water shortages, according to Abrams.
People who live in the drought warning areas are urged to take shorter showers, limit the use of sprinklers on lawns and not leave the water running while they brush their teeth.
“These things sound really simple but it all adds up,” said Abrams.
According to the latest data from the U.S. Drought Monitor, D.C., suburbs of Maryland and Northern Virginia are all experiencing conditions ranging from “abnormally dry” to “severe drought.”
Abrams said things should start to improve in the near future, however.
“The good news is that the seasons are changing,” Abrams explained. “Typically, when you enter the fall and winter months, these conditions can subside because it’s easier for rainwater to penetrate the ground.”