Alabaster Water Board starts voluntary water restrictions

The Alabaster Water Board sent letters out last week asking its 13,000 households to limit outdoor water use.

In doing so, the city joins the growing list of county municipalities that have implemented voluntary watering restrictions.

Water Board Manager Pete Lucas said high demand for water and lack of rain forced the board to take action.

&8220;We&8217;re starting out voluntary,&8221; said Lucas. &8220;If we get cooperation, we won&8217;t have to go to anything stricter.&8221;

During the winter months, Alabaster residents use nearly 4 million gallons of water a day, but Lucas said demand spikes during the summer.

Last Tuesday, residents used nearly 6.5 million gallons of water &8212; right at daily capacity for the city&8217;s water pumps.

Customers are being asked to follow an outdoor watering schedule through Sept. 30. The schedule is similar to the one used by Shelby County Water Services.

Houses with even number addresses should water on Mondays and Thursdays for no more than two hours. Houses with odd numbers should water for no more than two hours on Tuesdays and Fridays.

The city recommends no outside watering on Wednesday, Saturday or Sunday.

Lucas said he is optimistic that voluntary restrictions will work, but if customers don&8217;t cut back, he warns fines and increased prices may be in the future.

&8220;If we have to, we&8217;ll certainly look at mandatory restrictions or surcharges,&8221; he said.

Alabaster, Pelham, Shelby County and the Birmingham Water Works have all asked customers to cut back on water usage.

So far, Calera remains the only water board with mandatory restrictions in place.

If Alabaster can make it through the summer, hope may be in sight.

Shelby County is building a new water treatment plant on the Coosa River.

When completed in the spring of 2008, the plant will more than double the amount of water available for customers.

Alabaster and Pelham both buy water from Shelby County.

Also, the Alabaster Water Board has signed an agreement to buy water from Bessemer Utility Services. Lucas expects a line connecting the two cities to be finished by next summer.

The project was delayed by roadwork on County Road 52