GREENSBORO, N.C. -- The numbers are in, and for the second straight year Greensboro water demand has declined, according to the Greensboro Water Conservation Office. Water customers have responded to the urgent request for conservation, and they are easing the burden on the utility's overstressed water and wastewater systems, city officials said.
The Water Conservation office found this to be good news because demand over the past few years has been consuming the entire safe yield of the reservoirs. And, the resulting volume of wastewater has required the North Buffalo and Osborne Treatment Plants to operate at full capacity. These plants are currently facing the reality of stiff fines whenever they fail to comply with state and federal standards.
City officials are crediting the utility's water conservation effort and the public response for the decline. The customer base continues to grow, and no other reasons for declining demand have been identified. Although difficult to prove on the larger scale, water conservation has documented its contribution at several demonstration projects, and it has reduced consumption at apartment complexes by as much as 40%, officials said.
In addition, high levels of customer participation have resulted in 12,000 toilets and 7,000 shower stalls being upgraded to water-saving status. The city has also waged a war on "running" toilets that waste up to 2 million gallons of Greensboro water daily. A review of customer water bills also confirmed that all seven sectors of the city are registering a two-year decline in consumption, officials said.
Greensboro's successes in water conservation captured the EPA's Region IV 1st Place Award for both 1996 and 1997. The program was recognized for its unique promotions, effective distribution of water-saving hardware, and a significant reduction in water demand. Water conservation will play an even greater role over the next few years as Greensboro awaits the construction of the Randleman reservoir.
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