Area water usage moderate despite heat

Area residents have become more conservative with their use of water, despite the hot weather, according to local water authority officials.

"Even though we have relaxed most of the outdoor watering restrictions, our customers have continued conservation efforts," said Guy Pihera, water production manager for the Clayton County Water Authority.

Pihera said the Clayton authority has averaged an output of 25 million gallons of water per day over the past 12 months. He added that water use among the authority's 70,000 customers typically peaks during the summer months.

"The peak time of the year for water usage is this season," he said. "And we're producing approximately 26,500,000 of gallons per day [this week's average], which is about the same as this time last year."

Water use in Henry County continues to fall below anticipated averages, according to Roderick Burch, chief financial officer for the Henry County Water and Sewerage Authority.

"For the last 12 months, we've produced about 15,876,000 gallons per day, which is the average daily water production through the end of June, and the lowest number for average daily use in four years," Burch said. "So, you can see some results in people trying to conserve water in Henry County."

The finance director added that the peak day for water usage during that 12-month period, between July 2009 and June 2010, was on July 2, 2009, with 25,817,000 gallons of water being used. He said last month's peak day, on June 28, 2010, saw only 22,209,000 gallons used.

"Peak days typically occur because of heavy outdoor water use," he said. "Heat and rainfall also contribute quite a lot to water use. The biggest source of outdoor water use is still irrigation. But a lot of people are being more conservative in their outdoor irrigation."

Burch said the average household may use between 6,000 and 8,000 gallons of water per month without irrigation. With irrigation, however, residents could use 30,000 gallons a month –– or more.

"We've had some hot weather, but we've also had some adequate rain," Burch said. "Our [Henry County] reservoirs are full and in good shape."

Residents in both Henry and Clayton counties must abide by current water restrictions described in the Georgia Water Stewardship Act, which went into effect, state-wide, on June 2. The legislation allows daily outdoor watering for the purposes of planting, growing, managing, or maintaining ground cover, trees, shrubs, or other plants during certain times of the day for those whose water is supplied by a water system permitted by the Environmental Protection Division.

"Basically, you can irrigate your lawns, use water outdoors for watering purposes any day of the week between 4 p.m., and 10 a.m.," said Pihera.

"We have plenty of water to supply our customers' needs," he said. "We have had enough rainfall to keep our reservoirs full. But we [still] encourage wise use of water."