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19 June 2007

Jacksonville First City in County
to Restrict Water Use for Residents

Jacksonville’s Kenneth Gann stands in his dry yard Monday afternoon. Gann and other city residents will have a harder time keeping their lawns green after Jacksonville imposed mandatory water restrictions Monday. Photo: Bill Wilson/The Anniston Star

By Matt Kasper
Star Staff Writer

Reprinted here in its entirety.

Only the cactuses enjoy this.

After weeks of little or no rainfall, cities around the county are waiting for relief from above.

For some, the waiting may have gone on too long.

Jacksonville became the first city in the county Monday to impose mandatory water restrictions.

A memo issued by the city Monday said washing vehicles is prohibited at homes and watering of lawns, gardens and vegetation must occur between 7 p.m. to 8 a.m. according to a schedule based on where residents live.

“If police catch them right now, we’ll give them a warning,” said George Areno, Jacksonville councilman who is chairman of the Utility Committee.

“This is serious and it’s something we have no control over,” he said, “and we don’t know when we’ll come out of it if we come out of it.”

Residents and businesses in the northwest and southeast quadrants of the city will be allowed to water on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Residents and businesses in the northeast and southwest quadrants will be allowed to water on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

Watering will not be allowed on Sundays.

The price to pay for breaking the law?

Violations of the water restrictions may be punished with a fine of $25 for the first offense and $50 for the second offense, according to the memo.

Third offenses may be punishable with a fine of $100.

Calhoun County residents may not be far behind those in Jacksonville.

The Calhoun County Water Authority has a meeting scheduled at 1:30 p.m. today to discuss setting a date for mandatory restrictions, said Anita Trantham, office manager for the water authority.

“I have been with the water authority for 23 years now. This is the first time that we have ever had to go to the mandatory surcharges,” she said.

The county’s proposed restrictions would charge residents more for water they use above a certain level.

In the meantime, Eddie Knight, the Calhoun County water plant filtration manager, said he is urging residents not to be frivolous with their water use.

“Don’t wash your driveway off or your sidewalk. Do not fill your swimming pool,” he said.

Even precipitation forecast for today may not be enough, said Jody Aaron, meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Birmingham.

“It’s going to be a temporary relief,” he said, explaining that many cities will probably store the water in reserve.

Statistics from the weather service show Anniston has received only 8.92 inches of rain since January, an amount that is short of the annual average by about 18.39 inches.

Despite the drought conditions, mailing addresses go a long way in determining how residents cope.

Cities in good shape cite their water sources as the reason.

Oxford residents, for instance, have not been put under any water restrictions, said Oxford Water Works Manager Wayne Livingston.

“We are not under any. I can’t tell you if we ever will be,” he said, explaining that the five ground wells Oxford relies on for its water supply are relatively unaffected because they are 300 to 400 feet underground.

Still, he said, “we check it on a daily basis.”

Jim Miller, general manager of Anniston Water Works and Sewer Board, said his board also plans no restrictions at this point.

“We are still in pretty good shape,” he said.

Miller said although Coldwater Spring is lower than normal, the city’s other water source, Hillabee Reservoir, is “flowing over the spill line.”

“September or October is probably the breaking point” for going without rain, he said.

In Piedmont, City Manager Bill Fann said the city is asking residents to be careful with their water use, but no restrictions have been put in place.

“It’s something that you just monitor,” he said.

Water restrictions

Jacksonville restrictions

• Residents may water only 7 p.m.-8 a.m.

• Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for those in the northwest and southeast quadrants.

• Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays for those in the northeast and southwest quadrants.

• No watering on Sundays.

• No washing of vehicles except at car-washing businesses.

Water restrictions for local communities:

• Anniston: No restrictions

• Jacksonville: Mandatory restrictions

• Oxford: No restrictions

• Piedmont: No restrictions

• Weaver: Voluntary restrictions

• Calhoun County: Water Authority meets today to decide on mandatory restrictions.

About Matthew Kasper

Matthew Kasper covers Jacksonville, Piedmont, Ohatchee and Alexandria for the Star.

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