Two and a half weeks ago, Billy Clayton was wondering what happened to the rainy days of June.
Earl Johnson, foreman, (left) and Charles Teague, job site superintendent, work on the construction of a new filtration system at the Point Comfort Water Treatment Plant that will double the filtering capacity in the tank.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Water demand from Columbia County residents had peaked at 30 million gallons a day as dry, sultry conditions prevailed. And although the demand didn't put a drain on water reserves, an extended dry, hot spell eventually could have meant a more restrictive water conservation plan.
"It was just a large demand," said Clayton, director of Columbia County's Water Works Department, adding that daily demand is typically about 20 to 22 million gallons a day in the summer.
But now, Clayton says things are looking better. Water demand is back to normal, and an expansion of Clayton's department is well under way.
"We've already seen a tremendous (water demand) reduction," he said.
A $15 million expansion at the county's Point Comfort Road water treatment plant, which will add 15 million gallons of water a day to the county's water system, is just a few months away from being completed and should do wonders for the county in times of high water demand, Clayton said.
"The 15 additional million gallons is what we've built to address the growth in Columbia County, both for now and for what is coming," he said, adding that the construction has lasted for the past two years.
The expansion could be completed in late fall. Clayton said tests will be run on the addition this winter, but it shouldn't be needed until next summer.
At the county commission's Thursday meeting, commissioner Dianne Ford said the expansion is needed for the county's future growth.
"We continue to build and try to stay ahead of the curve," she said.
At the meeting, Clayton told commissioners about a statewide water conservation plan, which recently went into effect. Columbia County had its own conservation plan in effect, but with the state's mandate now in full force Clayton said the plan will now be more aggressively enforced.
The county's water conservation plan calls for no watering on Mondays. Those at even addresses can water on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Those at odd addresses can do so on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays.
Anyone caught watering on the wrong day after being verbally warned will have their water cut off and will have to pay a $25 fee to have their service restored.
The state conservation plan, implemented by the Department of Natural Resources, will last indefinitely, even if the county receives an overabundance of rain.
"I don't know what life will bring for us on this," Clayton told commissioners.
For now, though, Clayton said he's not worried about the county's water supply.
"We really don't anticipate seeing those really hot and dry conditions for the rest of the year," he said. "I don't think we have enough time left in the summer."
Water conservation plan
No watering on Mondays
Odd addresses - water on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays
Even addresses - water on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.