WITH THE promise of a dry, hot summer, county officials have already begun the call for voluntary water conservation measures in South Carroll.
Prospects for relief from new wells or larger draws from Baltimore City's Liberty Reservoir are dim. A fourth consecutive summer of mandatory restrictions on water use is imminent.
A temporary ban on new residential subdivisions in the district is not going to slake the thirst of the county's most populous area this summer. But it would give the county a chance to develop new sources of community water while it catches up with rampant growth that has proceeded without adequate public services.
For purely political reasons, this board of county commissioners is loath to be associated with anything that suggests a construction ban. But these same commissioners have failed to come up with adequate water supplies to serve existing residents. More than 500 new homes are already in the construction pipeline.
The South Carroll water situation is not a crisis yet, county planning director Steven Horn says, "but there is no long-term relief in the budget."
The water shortage cannot be ignored. It does South Carroll residents no good to hear continuing, unfulfilled promises from the commissioners of future water supplies. Mr. Horn's proposal of a temporary restriction on new subdivisions would show residents the commissioners are serious about the problem.
The county wants to build a new well near Sykesville that would yield 300,000 gallons a day, but the state is withholding required permits. Baltimore refuses to allow the draw of 3 million gallons from Liberty, because of disputes with Carroll over development in the reservoir watershed.
These matters may be resolved in time. But county leaders must take responsibility now. Braking the building boom until water supplies are increased is the proper course.