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Newton County Discusses Water Conservation Options
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Newton County officials met Wednesday morning with representatives of water utilities operating within the county and/or supplied with water from either the reservoirs at Lake Varner or City Pond.


Newton County organized the meeting in response to Governor Sonny Perdue's request for all permit holders to reduce production by 10 percent. Water supply utilities from the cities of Covington, Porterdale, Oxford, Mansfield and Newborn, along with representatives from the Newton County Water and Sewerage Authority, the Walton County Water and Sewerage Authority and the Jasper County Water and Sewer Authority participated in the joint meeting.


In an Oct. 24 letter from EPD Director Dr. Carol Couch, publicly owned utilities were advised to reduce monthly average production by 10 percent in addition to the reductions already achieved as a result of the Level 4 outdoor water use restrictions.  The attendees at the meeting on Wednesday learned about and discussed the ramifications of this new requirement.


Based on the average water production of 9.7 million gallons per day for the period December 2006 through March 2007, Newton County is required to reduce average water production by 970,000 gallons per day beginning Nov. 1.


The attendees at Wednesday's meeting discussed options to achieve that reduction.


All utilities at the meeting indicated that they have already actively implemented some form of conservation effort.  These range from public education to enhanced enforcement and locking irrigation meters. Everyone present agreed these additional requirements will demand greater efforts by the suppliers to assist their customers in reducing their water usage.  


Many options were reviewed and discussed by the group. A consensus was reached that all utilities present would formally agree to adopt the following steps as an initial measure of compliance with the Governor's efforts.


•           A comprehensive list of water conservation tips would be provided to all customers, primarily through inserts in the water bills and media advertisements.

•           Each jurisdiction's Web-site would offer additional tips and information related to the drought and water conservation.

•           Water consumption will be highlighted on water bills to increase consumer's awareness of their water usage.

•           A weekly "Water Usage Report Card" will be provided to media outlets to maintain public awareness of our conservation efforts.

•           The affected chambers of Commerce will be asked to assist by educating their membership on water conservation opportunities.

•           Roadside signs will be used to increase citizen awareness of conservation efforts.

•           The utilities will contact their highest usage customers to coordinate conservation efforts.

•           Utilities will lockout irrigation meters.


Individual utilities will also look for additional ways to reduce consumption.


Newton County is now required to report daily production numbers each week to EPD. These reports will also be shared with the local utilities to keep them informed on the success of their conservation efforts.  The group will meet again the first week in December to assess the progress that has been made.