Water-use limits lifted in South Carroll; 6,700 homes, businesses in Freedom area affected; REGIONAL NEWS


Freedom-area residents are free to wash their cars or water their lawns -- any day of the week.

Ending the third summer of water restrictions for 6,700 homes and businesses in South Carroll, county commissioners yesterday voted unanimously to lift a ban limiting outdoor water use to alternating days.

Carroll County imposed a complete ban on June 1 for homes and businesses in South Carroll, all served by the Freedom water system, which draws from Liberty Reservoir. The ban was later relaxed to allow outdoor use on alternating days, depending on address.

But Hurricane Floyd, which dumped nearly 5 inches of rain on the county this month, and other storms have helped replenish ground water and turn parched lawns green.

Mount Airy lifted its three-month ban on all outdoor water use last week.

Westminster is still under water restrictions. During a council meeting Monday night, Thomas Beyard, the city's director of public works and planning, said restrictions would remain for a couple of months. Beyard said he would like to see the city's reservoir level reach 80 percent capacity. It is currently at 40 percent.

"The customers are continuing to cooperate," Beyard said.

The Freedom Water Treatment Plant can process 3 million gallons of water daily, but operating at that capacity puts severe stress on the 30-year-old equipment. With the ban, water use has dropped to a more manageable 2.2 million gallons a day.

During September, water use has averaged 2.15 million gallons a day, said Gary Horst, the county's director of enterprise and recreation. County officials don't expect water use to increase significantly now that the restrictions have been lifted.

"It's that time of year that usage has dropped," Horst said.

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