Three consecutive days of record-setting heat stretched water consumption and pushed air pollution to unhealthy levels during the weekend.
“Saturday was our biggest day, with water usage right at 35 million gallons,” said Bill Clayton, Columbia County’s Water Utility Division director. “If that isn’t a new record, it has to be close.”
Customers used 27 million gallons Friday and 32 million gallons Sunday, before an afternoon storm brought relieving rainfall, coupled with hail and high winds.
Water demand also spiked in Richmond County, peaking Saturday at 53.24 million gallons, or about 8 million gallons more than the previous Saturday, said Assistant Utilities Director Allen Saxon.
Clayton urged residents to remember statewide water use mandates that ban outdoor watering between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Friday’s high temperature of 106 at the Augusta Regional Airport station topped the previous record of 105, set on that date in 1936, according to the National Weather Service; and Saturday’s 106 degrees broke the record of 103 set in 1998. Sunday’s 104-degree reading broke a record of 102 degrees set in 1990.
Although the weekend was hot, it wasn’t the hottest Augusta has seen. The all-time high temperature for any date – 108 degrees – has been set twice: Aug. 21, 1983, and Aug. 10, 2007, according to weather service records.
Excessive ozone levels – in violation of the Clean Air Act standard – were recorded Friday, Saturday and Sunday, bringing the number of noncompliant days recorded in Augusta this year to five. The other two days were April 1-2.
Three noncompliant days were recorded in 2011, two in 2010 and none in 2009.