Taneytown City Council delayed action last night on a proposed policy that would regulate outdoor water use during drought conditions like those of last summer.
The policy would spell out the three phases of water restrictions the mayor could impose under dry conditions: a request for voluntary conservation; a restriction on outside use with certain exceptions such as for vegetable gardens; and an all-out ban on water use.
Along with the policy, the council is considering an ordinance that would call for a fine of $50 per violation of the proposed water policy.
The council agreed to delay voting on the proposed policy last night so it could act on both proposals at the same time.
The circumstances under which the mayor would call for phase 1, phase 2 or phase 3 have yet to be determined. A committee of residents and city staff will continue working on that during the next year, said Charles "Chip" Boyles, city manager.
Boyles said the circumstances will have to involve several variables, including the water level in the city's wells, weather and rainfall, and use - the one factor over which residents and businesses have control.
The proposed water policy developed after several months of work by a committee of four residents and city staff members appointed by Mayor Henry C. Heine. Committee members proposed a policy to the City Council last week at its monthly workshop.
Last year, municipalities including Taneytown instituted outside-watering bans, and Gov. Parris N. Glendening called for statewide water restrictions in the driest summer the area had seen in 70 years.
Many towns, such as Taneytown, continued the restriction after Glendening lifted the statewide restrictions because their wells were so low.
Groundwater, which Taneytown relies on, recovers more slowly than reservoirs, which were replenished after hurricanes in August and September.
As in the past, the mayor is responsible for issuing the water bans, but the new policy will have more consistent guidelines, Boyles said.
Taneytown has no ban this summer.
Rainfall has been adequate, and residents are free to turn on water sprinklers, fill pools and wash cars.