- Last Updated on Wednesday, 05 August 2009 05:00
- Published on Wednesday, 05 August 2009 05:00
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New ordinance in the works to regulate water use during drought
The King George Public Service Authority Board (PSA) got an update on the process for adoption and implementation of a proposed water supply plan that must be approved and submitted to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) by Nov. 2.
The review was provided at a meeting on July 21 by the county-contracted engineering firm Draper Aden, with Jeff Kapinos and Sheryl Stephens presenting information on the development of a water supply plan for the county.
King George began the process two years ago of developing a plan required by the state to ensure the county has a water supply far into the future. All localities must develop such a plan under new state requirements initiated two years ago.
The Board of Supervisors had a choice to go it alone and develop a county plan or participate in a regional effort to come up with a plan for the larger area.
While the update was presented to the Service Authority, it will be the Board of Supervisors which will approve the plan and an accompanying ordinance that is also being drafted.
Supervisors had opted in 2007 to have a county plan developed. But it was agreed that the county document might be incorporated into a regional plan in the future. Regional plans have a later submission deadline of 2011.
The purpose of the state regulations is to require localities to establish a comprehensive water supply planning process to ensure that adequate and safe drinking water is available, including during times of drought. Another purpose is to encourage, promote, and develop incentives for alternative water sources.
Kapinos did not present a draft plan, but said it would be distributed later in August. The thrust of his presentation was to provide an update on the process.
He said a draft plan had been submitted to the state for comments from DEQ. He expects to hear back from DEQ later this month to incorporate suggested changes.
At that point, the draft plan and a draft drought ordinance will go to Supervisors for initial review and to authorize advertisement for public comment.
The main elements of the plan are expected to detail existing water sources and project demand for water through 2060. It is to include a drought response plan as well as suggest alternatives for future water supply.
Currently all water for residential use comes from groundwater sources through private or community wells.
Kapinos said that DEQ will require that drought response plans address three stages of response to drought conditions: Drought Watch, Drought Warning and Drought Emergency.
Precipitation, groundwater levels and water levels in Service Authority wells will be triggers to activate the three stages by county staff.
A Drought Watch would alert the public to climatic conditions indicating a drought is likely to occur. Citizens would be asked to voluntarily reduce water usage.
When a Watch is declared, it could be suggested that indoor water usage be curtailed by such things as asking residents to take shorter showers, only use their dishwashers and clothes washers when they have full loads and stop using their in-sink garbage disposal units.
In addition, outdoor water usage could be curtailed by watering lawns early in the day and less frequently.
When a Drought Warning is declared, it is likely that residents will also be asked to comply with the above suggestions and to also voluntarily reduce non-essential uses of water by watering lawns no more than once per week and water other landscaping and gardens with buckets and not a hose.
Other suggestions will likely include a caution not to wash pavement or sidewalks and to not fill or top off swimming pools and hot tubs.
When a Drought Emergency is declared, the water use restrictions become mandatory and are expected to be restricted to those uses which are essential to life, health, and/or safety.
For example, lawn watering could be banned along with commercial car washing. Likewise washing of pavement could likely be banned along with no use of water for fountains.
Kapinos said restrictions would be intended to be county-wide, noting that enforcement would be an issue to be determined.
While Kapinos had indicated that ground water sources would likely be able to supply adequate amounts of water for years to come, he noted that the county is expected to be included in the state’s 2011 “Virginia Ground Water Management Area.”
That inclusion is expected to place requirements on the county that would reduce the amount of water that could be drawn from each well, resulting in the need for more wells spread out so as to meet water needs and objectives.
More wells in outlying areas would spread out the draw-downs to reduce the reliance on the central wells.
By Phyllis Cook, Staff Reporter