Columbus City Utilities officials are asking customers to comply with a statewide water shortage warning and voluntarily reduce their water usage.
The state issued the water shortage warning Wednesday for all counties due to the drought conditions. The warning asks for voluntary water conservation to avoid or reduce shortages, relieve stressed water sources and prevent the need for mandatory water-use restrictions.
Bartholomew County’s water supply remains plentiful but could start to have significant decline if the drought continues for another couple of months, said Keith Reeves, director of Columbus City Utilities.
Reeves said he is asking utility customers to reduce their water usage by 10 to 15 percent to comply with the state’s request.
“It’s all voluntary right now at this stage,” Reeves said. “If I’m concerned about anything, it’s not where we are but where we may be going based on what all the climate experts say.”
The city’s customers, including industry, commercial and residential, normally use an average of 6 million to 7 million gallons of water per day. But since the drought, the usage has gone up to about 12 million to 16 million gallons per day, Reeves said.
He said the increased demand comes from customers watering their yards.
“If you’re watering seven days a week, we’re just asking that you reduce it to six days a week,” Reeves said.
The rainfall this week will not reach the county’s water supply, which is an aquifer that runs underground.
But, Reeves said he hopes it will reduce customers’ need to water their lawns.
As part of the state’s water-shortage plan, owners and operators of significant water-withdrawal facilities are being asked to implement voluntary measures to reduce water use by 10 to 15 percent.
Significant water-withdrawal facilities can withdraw 100,000 gallons per day from ground or surface water or a combination.
Bartholomew County has 167 significant water-withdrawal facilities. More than 100 are used for irrigation on farms and at golf courses and manufacturing facilities.
Other facilities are for industrial usage, energy production and public supply, which includes Columbus City Utilities and Eastern Bartholomew Water Corp.
Otter Creek Golf Course operates four of the county’s significant water-withdrawal facilities for irrigation.
Course superintendent Cory Troyer said the irrigation system has run nearly every night to maintain the course because of the dry conditions.
He said the course’s water usage is “more than a homeowner but less than a farmer.”
“It’s definitely been a high-water-usage year,” Troyer said. “We’re fortunate in Columbus that we are blessed with good groundwater.”
He said the course has not had to be watered the past few days because of the rain.
“That really can diminish the irrigation that we need to use,” Troyer said.
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