Asking for Help with Water Woes

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The grass is always greener on the other side of a heavy rain storm. But Thursday night's deluge made nary a dent in the water pinch the Twin Cities are facing. In fact...

"It was a great relief, but at the same time, it caused some problems," said Lawrence Carter, Bryan's water services manager. "The thunderstorms caused power outages, so we weren't able to run our pumps and wells like we normally would."

And with the large water usage over this dry spell, Bryan and College Station are asking residents to cut back, "so we can save 10 percent of our peak demand, about two million gallons a day," Carter said. "If we can do that for three or four days through the weekend, we'd be able to catch up."

Both cities have similar pumping capacities. Both have around 12 million gallons of storage. Both have maximums around 20 million gallons. But demand has skyrocketed to near 90 percent of each city's limit.

"By the end of June, we had spiked to around 18 million gallons a day, and we haven't dropped below that since then," said Jennifer Nations, College Station's water resources coordinator. "In fact, we've hit a couple of pumping records."

To illustrate the hike, consider that College Station's wastewater system runs at around 6 million gallons each day year-round.

"We've been getting up to about 20 million gallons a day of water usage, so that's 14 million gallons that are going on the ground or being used outdoors," Nations said. "We're concerned about being able to make sure we have enough water to supply firefighting, drinking water, domestic uses."

"The city is doing the same thing," Carter said. "Our parks and recreation department, golf courses and public areas are cutting back on water. We're not asking our customers to do something we're not willing to do."

The cities are asking residents to:

- Avoid watering during the heat of the day. Over half the water applied at the time can be evaporated.

- Water for long periods of time, but do it infrequently. This will help plants' root systems withstand drought.

- Keep grass three inches tall. It'll hold moisture better and help roots deepen.

- Check your water systems for leaks. Thousands of gallons are wasted every month.

And maybe, just maybe, some of this will return someday.