Water works issues drought advisory: Customers asked to voluntarily reduce water usage

SPECIAL TO THE REPORTER

Due to a severe lack of rainfall and increased water consumption, the Birmingham Water Works (BWW) is instituting the first stage of its Drought Management Plan, which calls for customers to voluntarily reduce their water use.

The U.S. Drought Monitor shows the Birmingham-Hoover metropolitan area is in a moderate to severe drought. Weather analysts indicate that these conditions will likely last throughout the summer.

Customers are being asked to voluntarily reduce their daily water consumption where possible, especially in high-volume activities such as lawn watering and car washing.

Mac Underwood, BWW General Manager, said the utility did not receive the rain expected during the winter months to replenish its water sources, prompting the utility to implement its drought plan.

Normally the area receives about 25 inches or more of rainfall between November and March, but this year it received about 12 inches.

Underwood said the 50 percent drop has impacted the system. He said the recent rain has been good for the lawns locally, but has not been enough to fill up local lakes.

&8220;We have been monitoring our water resources very closely since dry weather conditions began. Based on our latest data, we decided now was the time to enter our drought management plan ,&8221; Underwood said.

The utility encourages customers to use common sense and not to waste water. Underwood said people are often seen watering the streets, sidewalks and grass during a rainstorm, wasting thousands of gallons of water.

Water consumption has already increased as temperatures rose recently and they will continue to increase as the summer draws closer.

Stage Two of the drought plan calls for more restrictive conservation measures. The BWW will go to Stage Two if dry weather persists and the voluntary measures have not reduced water demand.

The BWW will post all water reduction tips, notices and other information on its Web site at www.bwwsb.com.

Founded in 1951, the Birmingham Water Works serves 750,000 customers in Jefferson, Shelby, Blount, St. Clair and Walker counties.