In Anne Arundel County, where 420 miles of shoreline and predominantly deep, plentiful aquifers belie the statewide drought, Maryland's water restrictions seem more a test of civic solidarity than a practical precaution.

At least that's how many residents see it, including Chokri Drissi, who contemplated the situation while sitting at Sam's Waterfront Bar in Annapolis.

"We get our water from a well here. So how does following the restrictions give a drop more of water to farmers on the Eastern Shore or people in Baltimore? I go along with the restrictions to be a good Marylander but logically, it doesn't make sense," he said.

The dry facts may lend some credence to his argument, though state officials say no county will be exempt from the restrictions because water shortages in the state directly or indirectly impact all residents.

About 60,000 Anne Arundel residents, mainly in the northern part of the county, draw water from Baltimore's depleted reservoirs, according to county officials, who say that conservation measures will help preserve the water supply.

But more than 240,000 residents in the northern part of the county get their water from the county's system of deep aquifer wells. County officials say these wells, drawing water from up to 1,000 feet below the earth's surface, are unaffected by weather conditions year-to-year.

"The capacity of some of these wells is measured in centuries, if not millennia," county spokesman John Morris said.

Approximately 150,000 more county residents get their water from 40,000 private wells, of which less than one-half of 1 percent have failed because of the lack of rain, according to the county health department.

Bob Weber, Anne Arundel's director of community and environmental health, said 323 replacement wells were dug in the county in first seven months of the year, compared with 187 in the same period last year. He attributes the bulk of the increase to the drought depleting more shallow wells.

"Most of the newer wells are deep artesian wells, which are generally more able to cope with drought conditions," said Harry Hansen, chief of the hydro-geology program at the Maryland Geological Services. But Hansen notes that because the water restrictions apply to all residents there is no reason for well owners not to follow them.

For county residents, having generally plentiful water at a time of state-imposed restrictions seems to have bred a bemused obedience of the sometimes confounding rules.

For example, car washing is now banned in Maryland, but the power-washing of boats is not (although marinas are expected to implement a 10 percent reduction in water use).

"I use about 100 gallons in half an hour washing a big boat and some guy can't wash his car? It's ridiculous," said boat washer Paco Trejo outside his apartment in the Watergate Village complex in Annapolis.

Trejo said he was taking the day off.

"That way I don't waste any water and I don't waste any sweat."

One local gardener who asked not to be named complained about the prohibition of soaker hoses.

"I'd like someone to explain that one to me," she said. "The soaker is much more efficient than watering by hand. They say people forget to turn them off, but I don't believe that."

She confessed that she was still using her soaker hose covertly.

"First, I turn it off. Second, it's buried so nobody can tell I'm doing it." The she added a bit defensively, "I'd be contradicting the spirit of saving water if I watered by hand."

Most county residents interviewed said they were following the restrictions, if not always for the noblest of motives.

"More than the government," Drissi admitted, "it's the neighbors. I don't want to be reported."

Steve Carr, an environmental consultant who lives on the Severn River, lamented the county hot lines that allow residents to report water restriction violations.

"That pits neighbor against neighbor," he said. "It's a quick line from that to totalitarian neighborhood brigades."

Carr said he watered his tulip magnolias even though he wasn't sure if it was permitted because "they looked a little stressed."

Charley Birney, co-owner of South River Golf Course in Edgewater and two other area courses, said he knew the feeling.

On the first day the restrictions went into effect last week, he got four phone calls about an ornamental fountain that wasn't shut off until noon.

"Golf courses make a political target in times of drought," Birney sighed. "We're not happy about the restrictions, but we're not going to rock the boat."

Nor, it seems, are most residents--no matter how much water they have beneath them.

Last Saturday, the county consumed a total of 28.3 million gallons of water, according to Morris, nearly 32 percent less than the average daily usage in July.