The water was free and plentiful at Baltimore County Fire Station No. 55 in Perry Hall yesterday, but the drought-stricken barely trickled in to collect it.
By late afternoon, three people had shown up at the station. Two people collected water from a fire station in Randallstown, and no one collected it in Texas, the other two sites where water was made available for the first time to county residents with failing or failed wells.
"We didn't expect to be overwhelmed," said Ellen Kobler, a county spokeswoman. "We just wanted to provide an option to people who might need [water]."
In the past month, Harford, Howard and Anne Arundel counties also have offered municipal water to well-users in need.
Officials from Howard and Anne Arundel said yesterday that about a half-dozen people in each county have come to collect water.
"Most people make alternate plans" when their wells go dry, said John M. Scholz, division chief of the Anne Arundel Fire Department. "They'll turn to their neighbors first - it's closer and more convenient. Neighbors are always happy to help out because next time it might be them."
In Harford County, five farmers and 26 homeowners have taken about 2,000 gallons of county water since it became available late last month, said Robert Cooper, deputy director of public works for the water and sewer division and the county's drought coordinator.
"We thought we'd get a lot more calls," said Cooper.
Danelle England-Dansicker, Baltimore County Fire Department division chief, said she expects more people will come for water once they learn about its availability.
"It's brand-new," she said. "I think it will pick up."
Baltimore County residents can fill their containers with water from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekends at these stations:
Station 17 - 9835 York Road, at Galloway Avenue in Texas.
Station 18 - 3610 Brenbrook Drive, Randallstown.
Station 55 - 9325 Belair Road, Perry Hall.
To take water, residents will be required to complete a one-time water-well survey. They also must complete and sign a request form each time they draw water. The county environmental department will track the information to determine whether to add stations.
Anyone requesting more than 1,500 gallons of water must contact the Department of Environmental Protection and Resource Management at 410-887-2762 for authorization.