Due to the near-record heat this month and the growth of the city, Fairhope Public Utilities is urging residents to conserve water.
“At this time, the Fairhope water system is averaging 1 million more gallons of water per day than a year ago at this time,” Fairhope Mayor Sherry Sullivan said in a statement. “For reference, on June 14, 2021, the system pumped 7,421,000 gallons compared to the June 14, 2022, rate of 8,276,000 gallons pumped. The system’s current capacity for service is just over 9 million gallons.”
The demand is pushing the city into Phase 1 of its water conservation ordinance, which asks residents to voluntarily conserve water. The city turned off the splash pad at Fairhope Community Park June 20 to review water consumption rates.
“All water customers are respectfully asked to comply with the Phase 1 restrictions,” Sullivan said in the statement. “Compliance will help determine how the system moves forward in the coming weeks.”
Mandatory phases of the water conservation ordinance could be put in place by the Fairhope City Council as early as June 27, if water usage rates don’t improve. Phases 2 and 3 of the ordinance are mandatory. The Phase 2 restrictions include limiting when residents can water outside, depending on their street addresses. Even-numbered street addresses would water on Monday and Wednesday, while odd-numbered addresses would water on Tuesday and Thursday. There would be no watering allowed on Friday, Saturday or Sunday.
Phase 3, which would occur when customers of the system are averaging 100 percent of the system’s capacity for seven days, includes the prohibition of watering lawns and washing driveways. Phase 3 also puts restrictions on at-home car washing.
In a phone interview, Sullivan said if demand goes down, the city won’t have to resort to calling a water emergency and implementing these next phases.
While heat is a big part of the city’s issues with capacity within its water system, Sullivan, who also serves as the utilities’ superintendent, said the city has not properly planned for the amount of growth it has experienced, which is another significant factor.
To that end, Sullivan said, the city is bringing two new wells online to help ease the pinch from increased demand.
“We’re digging test wells right now,” she said. “We haven’t had any new wells in the last 15 years.”
If the test wells are successful, Sullivan said, the city will add two wells to the system.
The heat is also impacting Fairhope electric customers. As a result, customers are asked to make “wise energy choices” between the times of 1 p.m. and 7 p.m., Sullivan said.
Some suggested tactics include bumping up the air conditioner temperature by 4-5 degrees, using ceiling fans, replacing air filters, turning off lights in unoccupied rooms and keeping curtains and blinds closed during the peak hours of the day.
“Fairhope Public Utilities and the city of Fairhope urge you to do your part to help keep your energy costs as low as possible,” Sullivan said.
Residents won’t get a break from the heat anytime soon as the National Weather Service is predicting highs near 100 for the next several days.
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