Aiken Co. asking residents to conserve water before it's too late

Aiken County drought

As of Wednesday, most of Aiken County is in a severe drought. (WRDW-TV / Aug. 31, 2011)

News 12 First at Five / Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2011

AIKEN, S.C. -- If you are getting ready to water your lawn or do that extra load of laundry, you might want to think twice.

Water levels in one of our biggest cities is low.

It is so low that city leaders are asking people to cut back before it dries up.

They say they are having to tap into the reserve water supply because it has gotten that bad.

As of Wednesday, most of Aiken County is in a severe drought. City leaders normally don't ask people to cut back, but with one of their creeks at a critical level, they say it is necessary.

Bill Reynolds and his wife both have green thumbs.

"My wife is a master gardener and we really love a beautiful yard, we spend a lot of time working in it," Bill Reynolds said.

His lawn has been pretty dry this summer because of the lack of rain, so his sprinklers have to pick up the slack.

"It depends on how much rain we have and I adjust it manually as we go along, sometimes it will be one day a week, sometimes it will be two, right now we set it up to three which the city is asking us to live with," he said.

City leaders are hoping more people will be like Reynolds and cut back on their water usage.

They have tapped into the water reservoir for now, which they haven't used for years, but it won't last forever.

"We need rain because Shaws Creek is down to critical levels, we are using the reservoir but it's a limited supply, " said Aiken City Manager Richard Pearce.

Shaws Creek may not look like it's in desperate need of water, but it is -- normally water covers the rocks by it and water is also coming down from the reservoir making it appear fuller than it is.

Shaws Creek provides about a fourth of the city's water each day, and with the creek so low, Pearce hopes to lead by example.

"At the Pearce household, we will be watering less, we be will be taking shorter showers and we will make sure we use just the amount of water we need to use," Pearce said.

And Reynolds doesn't mind watering less, too.

"If they ask us to cut back, we are sure going to cut back because water is a precious commodity, and it has been a very dry summer," he said.

But there is no need to panic yet; it's only when the city is experiencing extreme drought that it can require people to make these cut backs.

So at the moment, everything is voluntary.

City leaders are asking everyone to water every other day.

This means if you have a home with an odd address number, you should only water Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, while homeowners with an even number should water Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. They don't want anyone watering on Sundays.

Mailing Address: P.O. Box 1212 Augusta, GA 30903 Main Telephone: (803) 278-1212 Newsroom: (803) 278-3111 Fax: (803) 442-4561
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