Huntsville reaches stage one water shortage, residents asked to cut back on usage
Published: Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, September 11, 2012 01:09
Students living off campus may have to cut back on water usage after the city of Huntsville declared a Stage 1 water shortage last week due to abnormally dry conditions.
According to Carol Reed, Huntsville Public Utilities Director, much of the surplus watering comes from sprinkler and irrigation systems.
A large number of students live in off-campus apartment complexes, which use their own irrigation meters. These systems are large factors in the consistently high water usage levels, Reed said.
"We see new complexes go up, and they want attractive landscaping to bring in more residents," Reed said. "They should water at low-evaporation times like early morning or later in the evening and alternate days."
Stage 1 conditions are triggered when water consumption levels reach 10 million gallons for a period of 10 consecutive days. Wednesday’s reported water usage level of 10.1 million gallons prompted the voluntary restrictions, making the 10-day average 10.06 million gallons daily.
"Six of our top 10 water users are apartment complexes," Reed said. When asked about whether she thinks Huntsville will reach Stage 2 restrictions, Reed said, "it all depends on consumption."
Consumers are asked to reduce their consumption wherever possible to avoid reaching mandatory Stage 2 restrictions. This includes non-essential water used when watering lawns, washing motor vehicles and buildings, and other tasks that use excessive amounts of water.
Thus far, Reed said, the influx of students returning to SHSU from being home over the summer has not severely affected the number of gallons used.
"It’s almost entirely [the lack of rain]," Reed said. "There’s less rainfall in the summer and the temperature is higher; it’s been dry now for a month or more."
The lack of rainfall has led customers to use a significant amount of water for landscaping purposes.
According to the National Drought Mitigation Center, as of the last drought monitor from Sept. 4, parts of Walker County are in an abnormally dry (D0) zone of drought severity.
This is a major improvement from last September’s highest level of severity: exceptional drought zone (D4), which led to Stage 2 Water Shortage conditions.
To reach Stage 2 levels, the city has to use 10.6 million gallons or more for 10 consecutive days.
The Stage 1 restrictions will be lifted when the average daily water consumption falls below 10 million gallons for five consecutive days.