Wednesday, July 24, 2024

After 94 days, Brunswick County lifts Water Conservation Alert

Water utilities throughout the region are adding water restrictions to deal with drought conditions. Burn bans are also in effect at the state and local level. (Port City Daily photo /file)

BRUNSWICK COUNTY — Brunswick County Public Utilities announced Friday it lifted its Stage 1 Water Conservation Alert, 94 days after it was first enacted.

The county first announced the voluntary alert notice the Tuesday after Memorial Day during record water demands.

Related: Brunswick County reminds customers to limit nonessential water use as demand rises

Pender County Utilities and Cape Fear Public Utility Authority also issued their respective conservation notices during and after the spring holiday weekend.

Summer of conservation

Customers in the growing Cape Fear region were asked to conserve nonessential water use during a long dry spell as tourists flocked the region. Also, the regional raw water provider was nearly pushed to its limits, responsible for delivering water to multiple area utilities that serve hundreds of thousands of people. In May, Lower Cape Fear Water and Sewer Authority (LCFWASA), the authority tasked with sourcing the region’s raw water out of the Cape Fear River, broke its previous demand record.

Demand in May broke LCFWASA’s previous record set in June 2010 by 20%. On May 29, the Wednesday after Memorial Day, LCFWASA’s output peaked at 100.8%, slightly above its maximum design delivery capacity. Plans are in place to more than double delivery capacity with a parallel pipeline funded by Cape Fear Public Utility Authority and Brunswick County. Brunswick County is also planning to rev up the capacity of its Northwest Water Treatment Plant with an additional 12 millions-of-gallons-a-day in treatment capacity with its $179.4 million reverse osmosis treatment and expansion project.

However, the region has two more summers before both the parallel main and Brunswick County’s expanded system is in the ground running (reverse-osmosis-treated water will be available by fall 2021, the county projects, prior to the entire system upgrades are completed).

Irrigation this spring

In June, daily demand on Brunswick County Public Utilities’ system averaged at 92%. As rains dampened the drought and water customers across the region started conserving water, demands backed off.

“The voluntary water conservation measures taken by water system users in Brunswick County have helped to avoid mandatory water restrictions,” Brunswick County’s water distribution superintendent, Mickey Thompson, said in a press release Friday. “Adjustment of irrigation schedules has been particularly helpful.”

Voluntary adjustments included a schedule that asked customers to not irrigate their lawns on Mondays, or any morning between 5 and 11 a.m. Also, odd-numbered addresses were encouraged to irrigate on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, with even-numbered addresses irrigating on Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday.

Thompson asks residents to use the county’s suggested irrigation schedule next spring to prevent future conservation requirements.

“We encourage, but do not require, all customers to continue this irrigation schedule in the future and to use water wisely to ensure adequate water is available for essential uses and for fire protection,” Thompson said in the release. “Please use the suggested irrigation schedule next spring to eliminate, or postpone, the need for Water Conservation Alerts next summer.”

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