Originally created 05/28/98

Water flows despite limits



In Augusta neighborhoods Wednesday, sprinklers fanned water on already lush lawns, and hoses stretched across yards, water running into spring flower beds.

It was the first full day of mandatory restrictions on outdoor water use in Richmond County, but some homeowners were either unaware of -- or unconcerned by -- the conservation efforts. Water flowed freely at many houses where residents watered their lawns, gardens and flowers and washed their cars.

Residents with even-numbered addresses can use water outdoors on even-numbered days, and those with odd-numbered addresses may do so on odd-numbered days.

Dressed in matching flip-flops, Carolyn Byrd and her 5-year-old daughter, Montana, washed their car in the driveway of their Edinburg Drive home Wednesday night.

Mrs. Byrd didn't know about the restrictions. But by sheer luck, they picked the right day to spray down the car. She said she will keep the restrictions in mind the next time her car needs washing or her outdoor plants need watering.

"It's so hot here," she said. "But there's no reason to have a (water) problem. If my house was burning down, I wouldn't want the water to run out."

For years, the former city of Augusta didn't spend money upgrading its water and sewer systems. But the consolidated government's water problems now have little to do with earlier lackadaisical maintenance, Augusta Utilities Assistant Director Tom Wiedmeier said.

Two weeks of hot, dry weather has contributed to the problem, as has a faulty turbine at a Savannah River intake plant, Mr. Wiedmeier said. The turbine is expected to be repaired in two weeks, but a date to lift the restrictions has not been determined, water officials say.

The worst problems are in south Augusta, particularly around Tobacco and Windsor Spring roads. In those areas, development simply has outpaced infrastructure, Mr. Weidmeier said.

Augusta commissioners authorized $139,000 in emergency spending Tuesday to repair a water main.

"The problem is that there's a 42-inch main that has just been holding water for some time now," Mr. Wiedmeier said. "We found it when we went down to inspect the pipe this weekend. That's what's causing the water shortage. Workers were trying to dewater the main so we could finish our inspection. We need to repair that pipe to get it back on line."

This is the same line that blew when Augusta and Richmond County governments first consolidated about two years ago, Augusta Commissioner Freddy Handy said.

"We have no choice. We've got to spend this money," he said.

Though afternoon water usage is reaching its limit, Columbia County has yet to impose mandatory usage restrictions. But residents have been asked to cut their consumption and refrain from watering their lawns every day.

"This is August weather, 95 degrees, wind blowing, no rain," said Billy Clayton, county water superintendent.

As in south Augusta, growth in Columbia County soon could strain the area's water supply. Several storage tanks are under construction now. They should be completed next summer, giving the county an additional water treatment capacity of 6 million gallons a day, Mr. Clayton said.

"We've had some growth, yes, and we're walking that growth line to provide for additional services," he said. "But you don't want to get so far ahead that you unduly burden customers."

Staff Writer Tracie Powell contributed to this article.

BYLINE1:By Amy Joyner

BYLINE2:Staff Writer

In Augusta neighborhoods Wednesday, sprinklers fanned water on already lush lawns, and hoses stretched across yards, water running into spring flower beds.

It was the first full day of mandatory restrictions on outdoor water use in Richmond County, but some homeowners were either unaware of -- or unconcerned by -- the conservation efforts. Water flowed freely at many houses where residents watered their lawns, gardens and flowers and washed their cars.

Residents with even-numbered addresses can use water outdoors on even-numbered days, and those with odd-numbered addresses may do so on odd-numbered days.

Dressed in matching flip-flops, Carolyn Byrd and her 5-year-old daughter, Montana, washed their car in the driveway of their Edinburg Drive home Wednesday night.

Mrs. Byrd didn't know about the restrictions. But by sheer luck, they picked the right day to spray down the car. She said she will keep the restrictions in mind the next time her car needs washing or her outdoor plants need watering.

"It's so hot here," she said. "But there's no reason to have a (water) problem. If my house was burning down, I wouldn't want the water to run out."

For years, the former city of Augusta didn't spend money upgrading its water and sewer systems. But the consolidated government's water problems now have little to do with earlier lackadaisical maintenance, Augusta Utilities Assistant Director Tom Wiedmeier said.

Two weeks of hot, dry weather has contributed to the problem, as has a faulty turbine at a Savannah River intake plant, Mr. Wiedmeier said. The turbine is expected to be repaired in two weeks, but a date to lift the restrictions has not been determined, water officials say.

The worst problems are in south Augusta, particularly around Tobacco and Windsor Spring roads. In those areas, development simply has outpaced infrastructure, Mr. Weidmeier said.

Augusta commissioners authorized $139,000 in emergency spending Tuesday to repair a water main.

"The problem is that there's a 42-inch main that has just been holding water for some time now," Mr. Wiedmeier said. "We found it when we went down to inspect the pipe this weekend. That's what's causing the water shortage. Workers were trying to dewater the main so we could finish our inspection. We need to repair that pipe to get it back on line."

This is the same line that blew when Augusta and Richmond County governments first consolidated about two years ago, Augusta Commissioner Freddy Handy said.

"We have no choice. We've got to spend this money," he said.

Though afternoon water usage is reaching its limit, Columbia County has yet to impose mandatory usage restrictions. But residents have been asked to cut their consumption and refrain from watering their lawns every day.

"This is August weather, 95 degrees, wind blowing, no rain," said Billy Clayton, county water superintendent.

As in south Augusta, growth in Columbia County soon could strain the area's water supply. Several storage tanks are under construction now. They should be completed next summer, giving the county an additional water treatment capacity of 6 million gallons a day, Mr. Clayton said.

"We've had some growth, yes, and we're walking that growth line to provide for additional services," he said. "But you don't want to get so far ahead that you unduly burden customers."

Staff Writer Tracie Powell contributed to this article.