Voluntary water conservation showing impact

By Jenni Vincent
Staff Writer
Posted 6/1/07

DAPHNE — Daphne Utilities officials said Wednesday they are pleased with local water conservation efforts.

“We announced a week ago that we would be going into phase one of our voluntary water conservation plan and it seems to have gone very …

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Voluntary water conservation showing impact

Posted

DAPHNE — Daphne Utilities officials said Wednesday they are pleased with local water conservation efforts.

“We announced a week ago that we would be going into phase one of our voluntary water conservation plan and it seems to have gone very well,” said general manager Rob McElroy.

It is estimated that consumption has since dropped by 200,000 gallons.

In announcing the change last week, McElroy said that customers were asked to “voluntarily limit water use to only what is necessary for business, public safety and health.”

Recent usage rates made the conservation necessary, he said.

“One of this industry’s rules of thumb is that if you ever hit a daily of about 80 percent of your total daily water capacity, that’s a good warning sign you are edging up on exceeding your capacity and that you should be planning for new wells,” McElroy said.

That figure had been reached locally, he said.

“What’s really scary is that we popped over 80 percent on a monthly average, which means that multiple days during that month we were at full capacity,” McElroy said.

“At that point, we didn’t even have any spare (water) to put in a tank.”

Additional work is being done to help the system cope with usage rates, McElroy said.

“Well five came on line last year and we have the 3 million-gallon tank, which is complete now, but we’re still in the process of getting it sanitized for it to go online,” McElroy said.

Two additional wells, now in the works, will help but won’t solve all future problems, he said.

“This will get us in a better position, but it is not where we need to be,” McElroy said.

Peak times — April through early June — may still be difficult, he said.

“When we have no rain and we’re pumping so hard, we may still have to run everything we have 24/7 just to supply water needs for Daphne,” McElroy said.

Planning has also begun for an additional well, but it takes about two years from that point until a well is producing water, he said.

“It’s just not a quick fix,” McElroy said. “You can’t just go out and punch a hole in the ground.”

Other ideas are being explored, including the installation of a “hard pipe system to interconnect with Fairhope, similar to what we already have with Spanish Fort,” he said.

“I would like to see this become a kind of water emergency policy for both systems,” McElroy said.

Board chairman Robert Segalla credited local citizens for their help.

“The customers make it happen. All we can do is ask for their cooperation,” Segalla said.