An odd-even watering system in south Richmond County may replace the area's mandatory watering ban early today, utilities officials say.
Utilities Director Max Hicks said the switch to odd-even watering will depend on how well the four water tanks in the area refill by this morning.
By late Thursday, Augusta Utilities spokesman Brian Richards said the tanks were more than one-third filled, however the amount of water residents use in the area will determine the status of the ban.
"We have water in all of the tanks. And they are in better shape than they have been in the last couple of days," Mr. Richards said, adding that two of the tanks hold 500,000 gallons at full capacity and the other two 250,000 gallons.
"We anticipate putting a (odd-even system) notice in the morning at 8:30."
Because it appeared that most residents were cooperating with the ban, Mr. Richards said water workers were not sent out Thursday to enforce the outdoor watering ban.
However, frustrated residents say they are ready to say good riddance to their water problems, and also to the utilities workers who have patrolled neighborhoods to enforce the 24-hour ban put into effect Wednesday.
"These water Nazis would better serve the county by getting us some water instead of policing us," said Timothy Rutland, a resident at Country Place subdivision off Georgia Highway 56.
Mr. Rutland said utilities workers gave him a verbal warning yesterday after turning off his sprinklers.
While some residents compare this week's water restrictions to what happened last summer, Mr. Hicks said there is no comparison.
Last summer, 64,000 homes were affected by the watering ban off-and-on from May to July. This week's incident deprived only 10,000 to 15,000, he said.
Last year, the entire county was under water restrictions for most of the summer because of a lengthy drought and a broken main turbine at the Augusta Canal's water intake plant.
This year, residents say the inconvenience is too much.
"Even though this is happening to us, we are paying the same price as everyone else in the county and we don't get to use our water," said Mr. Rutland.
Though the most recent water trouble began with water leaking from a valve left open Monday at the Rose Hill Storage Plant, water shortages in the Brown, Old Waynesboro and Tobacco roads neighborhoods have been a problem for years, county officials said.
Infrastructure to deliver water has not been upgraded fast enough to keep up with the growing number of homes in the area, Mr. Hicks said.
And unlike older communities in the county, the area does not yet have a backup water supply, he said.
"If we have anything unusual happens, we don't have the redundancy we need," he said, adding that if the area had the extra supply, the system wouldn't be crippled when a leak occurs or when a pump is down.
This year the county is expected to go beyond quick fixes, he added. In addition of two water lines and a pump in the area, he said $500,000 will be spent on adding a well at Kimberly-Clark and a ground tank on Brown Road.