Water supply nearing `crisis'

Council seeks ways to maintain service

`Need to send a message'

Reduced consumption, new sources proposed


August 26, 2002|By Athima Chansanchai | Athima Chansanchai,SUN STAFF

Reducing water consumption and increasing the city's supply will be the focus of the Westminster Common Council meeting tonight.

"We're really reaching a crisis level," said Council President Damian L. Halstad. "It's impossible at this point to be too alarmed. We need to send a message that it's getting bad."

The main source of the city's water supply, Raw Reservoir, has dropped to about 25 percent. About this time last year, it was nearly 60 percent full, according to city officials.

"We're going to discuss contingencies to keep providing the kind of service people expect," said Thomas B. Beyard, the city's director of planning and public works.

Mayor Kevin E. Dayhoff is urging public water customers - about 8,000 in and around the city - to reduce their consumption by 25 percent.

His conservation suggestions include stopping all outdoor water use; immediate repair of water leaks; reduce the frequency of doing laundry; shorter showers; and turning off water while brushing teeth or shaving.

The city also is looking to tap two new water sources sooner than expected.

One is the Roop's Mill well, on 93 acres on the city's west side, which is expected to provide 135,000 to 170,000 gallons of water a day.

The other potential source is the Medford quarry in the southwestern part of the city. The plan is to draw water from the quarry - up to 13,000 gallons an hour - and truck it to the city's treatment plant.

Halstad said the city will tell the Westminster planning commission that future projects will not be approved until enough water is available to serve new construction or development.

Westminster imposed more water-use restrictions last week - prohibiting golf courses, athletic fields and commercial nurseries from using public water for maintenance.

One business, however, has received a short-term reprieve because of its commitment to water conservation.

Carroll Gardens nursery has immediately committed to a 30 percent reduction in water use and plans to develop a private water source.

The business used more than 1 million gallons last year, but is working to reduce that amount to about 600,000 gallons this year.

"We give a little bit on the front end, but in the end we receive two important objectives," Beyard said.

"We want to work to get them off city water, and if people understood how much water they use, they'd see this is a significant increase in conservation in the meantime," he said.

Although Carroll Gardens has been granted a reprieve, the Common Council plans to develop guidelines for approval of future waivers.

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