Following a wave of warm weather in the area, crocuses have started poking through the ground and trees have begun sprouting blossoms. Although many people are anticipating warm weather, the Washington Council of Governments is thinking about dry weather.
COG's drought coordination committee imposed a drought watch on 95 percent of the Washington Metropolitan region, including Montgomery County.
The watch was issued in response to an unusual and extended period of dry weather that the region has experienced since September 2001. So far, this February is the dryest on record. Drought conditions are rare in the winter.
The dry weather also raises concerns about brush fires, said Eugene Roesser of the Cabin John Volunteer Fire Department.
A "watch" is the first notification stage of the area's drought plan. The moderate drought conditions in the Potomac River basin triggered COG's decision to implement the plan. COG decided to issue the watch to remind citizens of the importance of using water wisely in and around the home. Homeowners are encouraged to install low-flush toilets and low-flow shower heads and to repair leaky faucets, and to refrain from over-watering lawns and shrubbery.
Other year-round water-saving steps include teaching children to turn off faucets while brushing their teeth, and only running full loads in dishwashers and clothes washers.