Billy Clayton waited weeks to hear the sound of water spilling into Columbia County's new 5 million water tank.
"That's a real good sound to hear," said the county's water and sewer services director of the constant hiss Monday of water flowing into the the creme-colored tank just off Belair Road.
The four-story tank, which will help alleviate some of the county's recent water shortages, has remained empty since it was completed three weeks ago because there wasn't enough water to fill it.
So far, the gauge along the tank's outer wall measures 18 feet -- 22 feet below its capacity. The tank represents a quarter of the county's water storage capacity.
"We just haven't had anything to put in it," Mr. Clayton said, adding residents had been using 26 million gallons of water per day for the past two weeks. "Everything I could put in the pipes was already sold."
Water was diverted to begin filling the tank Monday after residential use dropped during the weekend.
"What really helped us was the restrictions we enacted Thursday," he said. "By Sunday afternoon we were in good shape."
Columbia County residents are under an odd-even watering schedule -- but can water only from 5 to 9 a.m. and 5 to 9 p.m.
An early Monday storm, which dropped 1.25 inches on parts of Columbia County and nearly 1.5 inches of rain at Augusta's Fort Discovery, also helped ease the water woes.
"It was wonderful," Mr. Clayton said. "It was a God-send, and it was unpredicted. It was the best kind of rain in the world, for sure."
Meanwhile, it'll take at least two days to fill the tank with a pipe pumping about 150,000 gallons of water per hour. By comparison, using an average garden hose to fill the tank would take a year, Mr. Clayton said.
Staff Writer Katie Throne contributed to this article.
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