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Q&A With Saeid Kasraei

Thursday, August 5, 1999

Saeid Kasraei was live online from Annapolis. Kasraei is the program manager for the Maryland Department of the Environment's water supply program. His office has been fielding calls on the department's drought hotline, which is staffed between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday-Friday and 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. weekends, at 1-877-4DROUGHT.

Officials are also accepting e-mail queries at and have established a drought Web page with information and answers to many of the questions regarding water conservation measures.

Post coverage and regional water use information can be found in our special report: The Drought of '99 Thanks for joining us today, Saied, on Day 1 of mandatory water
restrictions. So how busy has the department's drought hotline been?

Saeid Kasraei: We've been overwhelmed by calls. I believe we are getting about 300 calls per hour. We've received scores of e-mails from people with questions, comments
and tips. One of the most common is this; Can folks already recylcing
their bath or dishwater who want to know if they can use the recylced
water on their lawns or cars. Can they?

Saeid Kasraei: Very good question. The Department has issued temporary measures that during this drought can use this without the permit. However, local governments may have restrictions on that... It depends on the counties.

Arlington, VA: Why is neighboring Virginia not taking the same measures as Maryland?

Saeid Kasraei: I'd rather not speak for Virginia. What are some tips for water conservation?

Saeid Kasraei: We encourage common sense approach. Shorter showers. Take care of the appliances. The main thing is the fixtures, make sure they don't have leaks. That's one that people don't see.

Hyattsville, MD: There are going to be a lot
of homeowners with dead
shrubs and trees.
Has Governor Glendening considered this>?

Saeid Kasraei: I'm not sure I'm even clear on the question. There's going to be a lot of dead trees all over the state. And we're all in it together. This is the time we've got to pitch in and try to save.

waldorf, md: Is there a reward for reporting violators of the water ban? I mean if there is a $1000 fine, then shouldn't the reporters get about $500? That policy will ensure that a maximum number of citizens will comply out of fear.

Saeid Kasraei: No. Actually, the first time its a warning and the second time its a fine, up to $1,000.

Bethesda, Maryland: I am confused about the plant-watering restriction. May I water my front beds - which are small - if I use a hose? I'd like to water them twice a week for a total of twenty minutes. Thanks for your help.

Saeid Kasraei: Yes, hand held hoses are allowed because you are not using as much water as a sprinkler. Or a bucket, or cans, that's fine.

Potomac, MD: Why isn't additional water being released from the Jennings Reservoir?

Saeid Kasraei: It was released last week or a week ago and that was adequate for the time being. The release from Randolph Jennings is for the purpose of drinking water.

Fallston, MD: Hello - I live in an exurban community near Baltimore, in Harford County. Our house is on a well, as are most houses outside the larger towns in Harford. My wife and I are fully engaged in water conservation measures. I have 2 related questions, as follows: Is there any way to tell whether our well is running dry? and: If the well does run dry, what are our options?

thanks -

Jameie Karmel

Saeid Kasraei: First of all, let me thank you for the measures you are taking conserving water. One of the first sign of a drying well is that the water table in the well starts dropping and the pressure stops dropping also. If it goes dry, well, I guess you have to drill a new well, unfortunately. How long will Maryland's water reserves last?

Saeid Kasraei: That's an immeasurable question. Each community has its own reserve. You have to go case by case.

annapolis, MD: Do the restrictions on watering lawns also apply to shrubs, trees and flowers?

Saeid Kasraei: Again, lawns may not be watered. Period. But vegetable gardens, flower gardens and shrubs could be watered using buckets, hoses and cans. How are you going to police the water restrictions?

Saeid Kasraei: Again, we are not policing that. That's something that the local jurisdictions will be dealing with.

Huntingtown, MD: My swimming pool is under constuction, due to be finished next week. Will I still be able to fill it?

Saeid Kasraei: Yes. The governor has made this provision that the exceptions include newly constructed pools. For the first time, they can be filled. In general for pools, private pools may not be filled or topped off. Public pools and residential pools that serve more than 25 people may be filled and topped off.

Gaithersburg, MD: What methodology is used to determine if the water supply is adequate for drinking? And how does that affect the determination to relaese water from the reservoirs?

Saeid Kasraei: The releasing water from the resevoirs has nothing to do with the drinking water, because that is raw water. The raw water has to go through the filtration process. That's all the time we have today. Thanks to Saeid for joining us.

© Copyright 1999 Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive

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