and mandatory restrictions on use of water, such as those now in
effect, are not an acceptable response to what appears to be the
likelihood of recurring dry spells, he said. Likewise, relying
on out-of-state sources in times of shortages will not work
beyond the point where an emergency becomes severe enough to
cause authorities to cut off access to them.
this year's experience "one heck of a warning shot," he
declared, "We have to meet this problem head-on. ... We need to
generate hundreds of millions gallons of excess capacity."
on Sept. 26 at a media event on the banks of the
drought-depleted Brandywine during what, somewhat ironically,
turned out to be a rainy day, the leader of the Republican
majority in the state House of Representatives proposed several
measures he said would provide a long-term solution to the
existing but so far unused regulatory power, he said the Public
Service Commission should require private water utilities to
regularly document their ability to meet demand during a
proverbial worst-case scenario -- a drought with a severity that
would be anticipated only once in 100 years. The commission, he
said, can require the companies to invest in the infrastructure
necessary to achieve that level of reliability or establish
guaranteed arrangements to purchase needed supplies for delivery
to their customers.
public domain, Smith urged immediate action to provide reservoir
storage space and related hardware to assure adequate reserves
to deal with that same kind of emergency.
he does not specifically advocate proceeding with construction
of a large reservoir such as has been proposed for the
Churchmans Marsh area along Interstate 95 south of Wilmington,
but said the pros and cons of proceeding in that direction
should be seriously considered. He indicated, however, that his
thinking runs in favor of pursuing smaller and more easily
said it would be easier and more palatable to consider building
a network of small interconnected reservoirs, especially in
areas like Brandywine Hundred. He noted that Cool Spring
Reservoir in Wilmington occupies just two city blocks.
state. he said, should consider partnering with the city and New
Castle County in exploring the feasibility of moving forward
with Wilmington Mayor James Baker's proposal to build a
desalination plant to tap into the Delaware River as a principal
source of supply.
shorter-range possibility, Smith added, would be to expand
Hoopes Reservoir, the city system's last line of defense against
running out of water. He said a water company official has told
him that it would cost less than $3 million to raise the water
level in that reservoir to a point where it could hold an
additional 300 million gallons.
Stormwater-retention ponds throughout the county could be made
to contribute to available supply by converting them to drain
into the underground aquifer rather than into streams.
leg of a solution, he said, lies with water users.
proposed that Delaware suppliers adopt the practice used in some
western states of charging increasingly higher rates as
consumption increases rather than taking the opposite tack, as
they now do. That would provide an incentive for individual
conservation efforts and should be coupled with an intensive
Regulators also should keep a sharper eye on users of large
amounts of water to make sure they do not draw down more than
their allotments, he said.