05/30/07 — Fork urges clients to curb water use

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Fork urges clients to curb water use

By Andrew Bell
Published in News on May 30, 2007 1:46 PM

Fork Township Water District officials are asking customers to cut back on the water they use.

As drought conditions across the state increase, officials in more and more counties are urging people to conserve water.

Johnston County already has implemented mandatory restrictions, as have many other counties around the state, especially in the Piedmont and mountains.

Fork District manager Tony McCabe said water usage has increased dramatically over the past few weeks. Fork's daily water usage has almost doubled since March, he noted, since customers have started watering lawns and gardens to keep them green.

Customers used an average of about 833,000 gallons per day in March. Monday's total was about 1.4 million gallons, McCabe said.

"The system is not set up for that much. Because of our pipes, we can only move so much water," he said.

McCabe said the public water system was designed to accommodate household consumption, not the watering of lawns, gardens or field crops.

Only three-tenths of an inch of rain fell on Wayne in May, according to Seymour Johnson Air Force Base weather spotters.

April's total was eight inches, but 90 percent of that amount fell during one large storm. The previous month, less than an inch of rain fell in the county.

Forecasts don't even call for a chance of rain until at least next week.

The strain placed on the system has also caused discolored water in some areas. McCabe explained that iron is natural in water. Since water constantly flows through the system, iron sometimes settles at the bottom of the pipes. When the system is used excessively, that iron washes out and gives the water a red discoloration.

McCabe said he hopes to see consumption drop in the next two weeks. If not, the district could be forced to enact mandatory restrictions.

McCabe said a possible mandatory conservation order for Fork might include no outside water use for its customers. A mandatory restriction would also include fines and other restrictions.

Officials with Wayne County's other water districts -- Eastern Wayne, Belfast-Patetown, Northwestern Wayne, Southeastern Wayne and Southwestern Wayne -- said they will follow Fork's lead if water usage continues to rise.

Wayne Water Districts manager Eddie Coltrane said the five sanitary districts included in the group are also asking customers to voluntarily conserve water. If high water consumption continues, Coltrane said, they also will have to consider mandatory restrictions.

According to a news release from the Johnston County manager's office, the county ordered mandatory water conservation over the Memorial Day weekend, but demand on the system did not decrease.

Johnston is now enforcing restrictions that prohibit users from irrigating on Mondays. Users can only irrigate Tuesdays through Saturdays on odd-numbered dates. Even then, the county asks users to irrigate sparingly. The Johnston County mandatory conservation order includes the towns of Clayton, Kenly, Four Oaks and Princeton and all users of the Aqua N.C. and Carolina Water Service systems.