Aiken issues 'voluntary' water conservation efforts ahead of possible 'challenging drought period'

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Thursday, May 30, 2019

AIKEN COUNTY, SC (WRDW/WAGT) -- The City of Aiken is asking residents to hold off on watering the plants a little bit.

That's because they've issued a voluntary water conservation notice due to "what could become a challenging drought period," the city said in a statement.

City officials say the water supply has been running at full capacity, pressures are below average, and usage has risen.

"Voluntary conservation is the first alternative before the possibility of resorting to an odd and even watering schedule until there is some rain relief and recovery," the statement said.

Tuesday's brush fire on Interstate 20 wasn't much help either, according to Aiken water engineer Michael Przybylowicz.

"It drained us a bit, per se, and it took a while for us to catch back up," Przybylowicz said.

Przybylowicz says this early start to the summer has hit the city hard, too.

"We're normally seeing this temperature in late July/early August," Przybylowicz said.

Before the fires, they were already thinking of announcing drought conditions.

"We're actually adding another 4 million gallons a day through the system," Przybylowicz said.

Aiken's Shaw's Creek plant has gone from pumping out 10 million gallons a day to 14.2 million, which is is why they're asking people to ease back.

"Within another week we could go to an extreme of every other day usage," Przybylowicz said.

The weather is mostly to blame, but it doesn't help that fires keep popping up out of nowhere either, eating away at resources.

"We're rolling out some extra forestry trucks, some extra brush trucks out, on our brush fire calls, just so we can get on it as soon as possible before it gets too large," Przybylowicz said.

Przybylowicz says cutting back is voluntary right now, but with schools out and more people home, the city may have to start policing people watering lawns or washing cars until things improve.

"Maybe not operate the pumps as frequently, which would in turn lessen the water pressure," Przybylowicz said.

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