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Worcester County, MD
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Added by the Board of County Commissioners of Worcester County 5-7-2002 as Subtitle II of Title 2 of Bill No. 02-3; amended 4-15-2003 by Bill No. 03-8. Subsequent amendments noted where applicable.]
Definitions. For the purpose of this Subtitle, the following words and phrases shall have the meanings indicated:
The use of land, buildings and structures for dairying, pasturing, crop growth, horticulture, floriculture, the raising of livestock or poultry for sale and including other conventional agriculture uses. Forestry shall not be considered agriculture for the purposes of this section.
Necessary for the basic health and safety.
The use of land, buildings or structures for the purpose of selling living plant material.
The application of water drawn from a water source including a natural source or man-made source to any area or object located outside of a building or structure. "Outside use" when modifying "water" shall specifically apply without limitation to the watering of plant materials, the washing of any object including structures, motor vehicles, and watercraft.
A condition, as determined by resolution of the County Commissioners, where the existing and reasonably expected supplies of water may be or may become insufficient to meet the current or projected water needs or to maintain desirable health, environmental or agricultural conditions. A water supply emergency may occur on account of natural conditions or inability or difficulty in producing or obtaining water.
Authority to impose; procedures. During periods of water supply emergency, as declared by the County Commissioners, the Commissioners may, by resolution, impose restrictions and moratoria on the outside use of water. The Commissioners may enact such resolutions where it is deemed necessary to limit or conserve the water supply. The resolutions may provide for a strict and complete moratorium, or for a limited moratorium or for restrictions on outside use of water, and may provide different criteria for different areas of the County. Such resolutions need not be County-wide and may be for limited areas. The resolutions may provide for limited or complete bans on outside use of water and may be of such duration that the Commissioners deem appropriate and necessary.
Exemptions. The provisions of any resolution adopted hereunder shall not apply to agriculture (including nurseries), garden centers, fire fighting, or essential outside activities for the public benefit as set forth in any resolution adopted pursuant hereto.
Waivers. The County Department designated by the County Commissioners to administer and enforce this subtitle may, upon application on forms approved by the Commissioners, grant a waiver of the provisions of any resolution adopted hereunder in specific cases where the Department finds that the impact of the resolution will impose a significant financial burden, actual hardship or dangerous impact upon an individual to a greater extent than on the public at-large and that granting the waiver will not unduly threaten the water supply. In granting such a waiver, the Department may place conditions and restrictions upon the activity for which the waiver is granted. Any applicant for a waiver aggrieved by the decision of the Department may appeal the same to the County Commissioners.
Enforcement officers. The County Commissioners may appoint such enforcement officers as the Commissioners' deem necessary and appropriate for the purpose of enforcing and administering the provisions of this Subtitle. Where deemed appropriate by the Sheriff of Worcester County, such officers shall be deputized and given the powers of Deputy Sheriffs as may be assigned them by the Sheriff of Worcester County or as provided under this Subtitle.
Public information and education. It shall be the duty of enforcement officers to engage in public information and education programs in order to inform and educate members of the public about the importance of water conservation, the significance of water shortages, the causes therefor, and remedies and measures to be taken to minimize the negative impact of water shortages. Such education programs will emphasize the public's responsibility to conserve the water supply and shall inform the public about voluntary measures, methods, and practices which will conserve water.
Applicability in service areas and geographic areas. This section shall apply throughout the County except within incorporated municipalities. The provisions hereof, however, may by resolution be applied and enacted in separate areas including geographic areas and sanitary service areas depending on the nature of the water shortage. Different requirements may apply in different geographic areas and sanitary service areas and restrictions and moratoria may be imposed for different reasons, specifically including lack of supply, lack of production capability and overuse.
Stage I water shortage warning - limited and voluntary restrictions. In the event the County department designated by the County Commissioners to administer and enforce this Subtitle determines that a water supply emergency is likely to occur within any area of the County, such conditions shall be reported to the County Commissioners who may, by resolution, issue a water shortage warning. Upon the issuance of a water shortage warning, mandatory measures may be declared and may be imposed by the County Commissioners by resolution. In addition, upon the issuance of a water shortage warning, voluntary measures shall be encouraged and a targeted public information program undertaken to inform the public about the possible water supply emergency and the voluntary measures. Water users shall be encouraged to take appropriate voluntary action to conserve water. Those actions may include limitations on the following:
Watering of lawns, grass, shrubbery, trees, flower and vegetable gardens, except by hand-held hose, container, or drip irrigation system.
Filling newly constructed swimming pools and/or wading pools or refilling or topping off swimming and/or wading pools.
Operating water-cooled air conditioners or other equipment that does not recycle cooling water, except when health and safety are adversely affected.
Washing automobiles, trucks, trailers, boats, airplanes, or any other type of mobile equipment, provided, however, that any person regularly engaged in the business of washing motor vehicles and commercial car wash facilities shall be permitted to use water for such purposes.
Washing outside areas such as streets, driveways, parking lots, office buildings, exteriors of existing or newly constructed homes or apartments, sidewalks, or patios, or to use water for similar purposes, provided, however, that hand-washing of exterior surfaces of a building for the purpose of preparing them for painting shall be permitted.
Operating or introducing water into any ornamental fountain, pool, or pond or other structure making similar use of water.
Using water from any public or private fire hydrants for any purpose other than fire suppression or other public emergency or public services need.
Using water for dust control or compaction.
Using water for any unnecessary purpose or to intentionally waste water.
For all industrial, manufacturing, and commercial enterprises attempting to reduce consumption to any degree feasible with a goal of a reduction of at least twenty-five percent.
Serving of water in a restaurant other than upon request.
Stage II water supply emergency - mandatory restrictions. In the event the County Commissioners determine that a water supply emergency exists within any area of the County, the County Commissioners shall, by resolution, declare such emergency and impose restrictions and/or moratoria as determined necessary and appropriate to maintain the flow of essential water.
Restrictions and conditions. Provisions of moratoria may include the following:
Any action listed in Subsection (h) above.
Limitations on the outside use of water.
Limitations on the use of non-essential water.
Postponing of landscaping.
Suspension of County laws requiring completion of landscaping.
Imposing limited hours of operation upon commercial car washes.
Suspending the issuance of building permits.
Suspending connections to water systems.
Civil penalties. Anyone violating the provisions hereof or any resolution adopted hereunder shall be guilty of a civil infraction and shall pay a civil penalty as established by resolution of the County Commissioners which shall double for each successive offense.
Criminal penalties. Any person wantonly, knowingly and significantly violating the provisions hereof or any restrictions adopted hereunder shall be guilty of a misdemeanor which shall be punishable upon conviction by a fine not to exceed one thousand dollars.
Continuing and separate violation. Each day's continuing violation of this section shall constitute a separate and distinct criminal or civil offense. Each violation of this section shall be a separate offense even if occurring on the same day.
Failure to repair leak. Any person knowingly failing to repair a leak within a reasonable time after its discovery shall be in violation hereof and shall be subject to the penalties herein set forth. In addition, service may be discontinued as set forth in Subsection (p) hereof, whether or not repeated violations are found.
[Added 6-15-2004 by Bill No. 04-2[1]]
Editor's Note: This bill also redesignated former Subsection (n), Discontinuance of service, as Subsection (p).
Repair by Department. The County Department designated by the County Commissioners to administer and enforce this subtitle may, with the consent of the property owner, enter upon properties having leaks and repair the same at the expense of the property owner which said cost shall be added to the water bill for the property. In the event the Department is unable to contact the owner of a property upon which there is a leak and the leak, in the estimation of the Department, will result in significant loss of water or a significant rise in the water bill of the property owner, the Department may repair the leak and add the cost thereof to the water bill for the property upon which the repair is made. Such amounts added to water bills shall become a lien upon the property and shall be collectable as any other water bill.
[Added 6-15-2004 by Bill No. 04-2]
Discontinuance of service. In the event of repeated violations of the provisions of this section, the County Commissioners may, after providing an opportunity for a hearing upon not less than five days notice, terminate water service to the property of the violator for such period of time as the Commissioners may deem appropriate.