Despite high temperatures near 100 degrees and little rain to sustain plants and lawns, Columbia County's water system has been able to keep up with water demands this summer, says Billy Clayton, the county's Water and Sewer Division director.
Because of upgrades to the water system and large water reserves, the system is prepared for the summer's high water usage, Clayton said. That is helped by residents, whom he said have been abiding by state rules regarding outdoor watering.
"We've had very good success with that," Clayton said. "We had to hand out a few warnings and educate folks."
The water conservation plan requires residents and businesses with an even-numbered address to water on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Those at an odd-numbered address are allowed to water on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. No watering is allowed on Mondays.
As part of a new plan started this summer, Clayton said, no outdoor watering is allowed between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., the hottest part of the day. Water will quickly evaporate during that time in the near-100 degree temperatures of the past few weeks.
Clayton said he expects to see sprinkler systems operating quite a bit in the next couple of weeks, when not much rain is predicted.
Rainfall is below normal for the year. The Augusta area received only 21.26 inches of rain as of July 28 as opposed to 26.95 inches received by the same time in 2005, according to the National Weather Service office in West Columbia, S.C. Rainfall for July is more than two inches less than the average of 3.53 inches.
"A lot of folks think last year was an extremely wet year, but actually is was a normal year or what is supposed to be a normal year for us," Clayton said. "We're just not used to seeing it much any more."
The county's water system, Clayton said, is capable of dispensing 40 million gallons per day.
He said that right before heavy rains about two weeks ago, residents were using 24 to 26 million gallons a day. After the rains, daily usage dropped to 12 to 14 million gallons, Clayton said. Between 10 and 12 million gallons is used for domestic purposes such as drinking, bathing and cooking.
"But now we are slowly climbing back up," Clayton said Friday. He said that June, July and August are usually the peak water usage season. "We're probably at 20 million gallons a day right now. But it is climbing."
Temperatures are expected to remain with highs in the upper 90s and heat indexes even higher for the remainder of the week, according to the National Weather Service.
Clayton said he's had some people say the mandate is too confusing to remember.
"Don't worry about all parts of it," Clayton said. "If you are an odd (address), just remember what (days) odds are."
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.