MARYLAND

Reservoir May Replenish Potomac

The Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission is deciding whether to drain 2 billion gallons of water from the Little Seneca Reservoir in Montgomery County to ensure that the drought-depleted Potomac River has enough water.

WSSC officials have not had to drain water from the 4 billion-gallon reservoir in the roughly 15 years it has been open. But an agreement that requires the region's three largest water utilities to intervene if the Potomac runs low may prompt the agency to do so unless rain ends a serious drought soon.

Officials say Little Seneca Reservoir was created for just such an emergency.

The 17-year-old agreement among regional water utilities requires them to make sure the Potomac's daily flow does not fall below 100 million gallons. Officials say lower levels threaten wildlife usually submerged along the riverbanks and make it harder to process the water for consumption. Yesterday's flow was expected to be 340 million gallons.

Likely Source of Illness Identified

A hot-water tank at a hospital in Harford County is the probable cause of three of the four cases of Legionnaire's disease that killed two patients, state and hospital officials said yesterday.

About a dozen water samples taken from the tank and outlets downstream from it at Harford Memorial Hospital tested positive for the bacteria that cause the respiratory disease.

The source of the fourth case hasn't been tracked. The fourth patient is still being treated and was reported in critical condition yesterday in the hospital's intensive-care unit.

The hospital's water system has since been flushed with 150-degree water and decontaminated with a chlorine solution.

Governor Names Natural Resources

Chief Gov. Parris N. Glendening (D) replaced John R. Griffin as secretary of natural resources yesterday with one of Griffin's assistants, Sarah Taylor-Rogers.

Griffin was popular with the state's environmentalists and had served through Glendening's first term. He will continue to work on several initiatives through the summer. The Department of Natural Resources oversees some of the key elements of Glendening's "Smart Growth" program meant to curb suburban sprawl.

Privately, Glendening aides praised Griffin for some of his work but also said he and the governor had never made a "connection."

Pr. George's Superintendent Gets Help

Iris T. Metts, the new Prince George's County school superintendent, announced yesterday that she has assembled a team of four top-level consultants to help her as she takes stock of the school system and decides what changes should be made.

The four are Alberta L. Paul, director of technology and information for the Philadelphia public school system; Claude G. Perkins, dean of the school of education for Albany State University in Albany, Ga.; Franklin A. Rishel, deputy superintendent for the Christina School District in Delaware; and Kenneth H. Brown, director of business and finance for the Christina School District.

The transition team members will start meeting with school officials next week and are expected to remain in the area for several days before returning to their regular jobs.

THE REGION

New Look Confirms Cracks in Monument

A new engineering report on the Washington Monument confirms what another engineering firm found in 1992: There are cracks in the city's premiere tourist attraction.

A draft report by the Alpha Corp. repeats the information from the earlier report, said Stephen Lorenzetti, the National Park Service employee overseeing restoration of the monument's facade. The hairline cracks include one that runs for 40 feet and several shorter ones, Lorenzetti said.

The earlier report was made from ground observations and an interior examination; the latest one was made from a close surface examination by using the scaffolding that now embraces the monument. Both reports recommend that the Park Service install some type of monitoring device to help determine what has caused the cracks and to record any changes in them.

THE DISTRICT

Council Approves Foster-Care Changes

The District must remove victims of child abuse or neglect from its foster-care system more quickly under a plan approved by D.C. Council members this week.

Under the plan, within a year after the child has entered foster care, D.C. Superior Court must hold a hearing to determine a permanent placement plan. If a child is in the city's court-ordered custody for 15 of the most recent 22 months, the city also must move to terminate parental rights, with certain exceptions.

The plan also requires criminal background checks of prospective foster parents. The city could have lost millions of dollars in federal funding if it did not adopt the new rules, which should bring the District into federal compliance.

VIRGINIA

State Police Looking to Hire Women

Virginia State Police are looking for more female recruits in an effort "to more accurately reflect society," according to police spokeswoman Lucy Caldwell.

On Monday, the agency will have its first Northern Virginia recruitment fair for women interested in law enforcement. There are currently 1,840 troopers and investigators on the state police force, 65 of them women.

Since June 1, the agency has sponsored three career fairs for women, two in Richmond and one in the Chesapeake area.

Monday's session will be from 4 to 8 p.m. at the agency's Northern Virginia headquarters, 9801 Braddock Rd., Fairfax County.

Residency in Virginia is not a requirement.

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

"The school board didn't negotiate. They surrendered. The public is not going to blame him. They are going to blame the board, and members will be hearing about this during next year's election season."

-- Roscoe Nix, a former member of the Montgomery County Board of Education, on a compensation package for incoming Superintendent Jerry Weast totaling almost $300,000, making Weast one of the highest-paid public officials in Maryland.