Thursday, December 7, 2023

As Covid-19 shifts demand, CFPUA offers cost-saving tips

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 / Benjamin Schachtman)
Keeping your lawn looking good doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune in water each summer. (Port City Daily photo / Benjamin Schachtman)

WILMINGTON — Warmer weather is here and the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority is asking residents to observe ‘best practices’ when it comes to keeping their lawns looking healthy.

According to the utility provider, so far the demand for drinking water has been lower than this time last year, however, the impacts of the coronavirus are affecting water consumption as well.

“Total demand for drinking water from CFPUA customers in April has been about 3 percent less than April 2019, when weather conditions were far drier and hotter. Stay-at-home orders and other restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic have affected drinking water demand by CFPUA customers, but the effects have been dramatically different among CFPUA’s three drinking water systems,” according to CFPUA.

The three water systems include Sweeny, Richardson, and Monterey Heights.

The Sweeny Water Treatment Plant providers the bulk of water to the county and in April the average daily demand for water was 14 million gallons, a 9% decrease from last year.

The Richardson Plant provides water to the northern part of New Hanover County, water demand in April was up 25% from last year at 2.9 million gallons per day. The final plant, Monterey Heights serves the areas south of Monkey Junction and this system has also seen a large spike in demand.

While not quite reaching 1 million gallons per day, the 0.9 million gallons per day is a 36% increase over 2019.

“This likely is the result, at least in part, of COVID-19-related closures or partial closures of the University of North Carolina Wilmington, Cape Fear Community College, and other larger water users such as hotels and restaurants in the Sweeney service area. In contrast, the Richardson and Monterey Heights customer bases are more heavily weighted toward residential accounts,” according to CFPUA.

Landscape irrigation can be a costly expense for residents but there are ways to prevent a massive water bill while keeping lawns looking green.

“During the spring and summer, landscape irrigation can make up a large portion of residential water use. Conscientious irrigation can help conserve water, reduce customers’ utility bills, and, according to landscape experts, result in healthier lawns and landscapes. A good plan involves:

  • About 1 inch total of water on landscapes per week. This includes rainfall, so you don’t need to water at all in weeks where we’ve received a good shower.
  • Watering two to three times per week. Your total for the week should still be 1 inch.
  • Watering between 4 and 7 a.m., to reduce water lost to evaporation,” according to CFPUA.

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