U.S. Water News Online
GREENSBORO, N.C. -- An agressive water conservation program here has helped this city reduce its daily water consumption. In a recent study that measured several years of consumption over the winter months, water demand registered almost 1 million gallons per day less than two years ago when 4,000 fewer customers were connected to the system.
The billing cycles confirm that all seven sectors of the city are experiencing a decline in consumption. Only the winter months were studied to avoid the radical changes in summertime consumption caused by lawn watering.
"Greensboro has maximized its current supply of water, so this is great news," said Allan Williams, Greensboro's new Utilities Director. "The city's water treatment plants averaged 34.1 million gallons per day (mgd) in 1996, approaching the 36 mgd safe yield of our lakes. And in the summertime, customer demand routinely requires us to produce as much as 48 mgd. Greater challenges are just around the corner, and our plans to quench Greensboro's thirst for future water include the completion of the Randleman Dam and stepped-up water conservation measures to extend the production of our current reservoirs," Williams added.
Mike Baron, Greensboro's Water Conservation Officer, refers to this new found supply as "Lake Efficiency" -- Greensboro's conservation reservoir. "Don't try to find it, because it's not on the map", claims Baron. The water from Lake Efficiency is already in the pipeline. As established neighborhoods implement conservation measures, the water they no longer require can be diverted to new subdivisions about to open.
The keys that have started the flow from this new reservoir are the elimination of leaks and the installation of new water-saving hardware. "We've given those keys to our customers, and they have responded in grand fashion," said Baron. The city's EPA award-winning Early Closing Toilet Flapper $4.00 Rebate program has sold 12,000 of the high-tech devices. Over 7,000 old showerheads were "traded-in" for water-saving replacements offered through the libraries. Baron claims these programs are saving (producing) water for Greensboro at the rate of 3,000 to 4,000 gallons per dollar of investment.
"Perhaps the biggest contribution customers are making is the repair of their leaking toilets," claims Baron. Greensboro loses between one and two million gallons of water per day through poorly-maintained toilets, and the Water Conservation Office is on a crusade to correct them. When Baron speaks to groups, a show of hands indicates that up to one-third of toilets are leaking. At one of the apartment demonstration sites, 60 percent of the commodes were leaking. Baron also found a hotel with 50 percent toilet leakage and a restaurant with 66 percent leakage. "People seem to tolerate their running toilets for months, and sometimes years," added Baron. A leaking toilet will waste 50 to 100 gallons a day.
Two years ago, Greensboro's Utilities Department put forth the message..."PLEASE CONSERVE...our tanks go out to you," and the response to the water conservation program has been nothing short of remarkable. Greensboro's overburdened sewage treatment plants are appreciating the reduced inflow. The decline in consumption is expected to improve water distribution this summer, even though a new record of peak demand is likely to be set. During hot and dry periods, Greensboro's water treatment plants run "wide open" for days on end. The current "high day" record is 48.8 million gallons, set on July 18, 1996.
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