The Cavalier Daily
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Following drought, city to consider restricting water

In the wake of a summer-long drought and dwindling water reserves, City Council members are planning to vote on a water conservation ordinance at their Sept. 7 meeting that would heavily restrict water use.

If approved, the restrictions would go into effect when the reservoirs reach 65 percent of capacity or less. There already are laws that impose restrictions on watering when reservoirs drop to 70 percent.

Last week, the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority-which provides water to Charlottesville and Albemarle County-watched its reservoirs dip to as low as 76 percent of their capacity, Charlottesville's Director of Communication Maurice Jones said.

Although the levels were at 80 percent as of Friday morning, according to RWSA's Executive Director Arthur Petrini, the city is preparing for more drought.

The return of University students will put an additional strain on Rivanna's resources.

Due to the influx of about 18,000 students, "traditionally September is our largest consumption month," Jones said.

The proposed ordinance would ban watering lawns except from a container no larger than three gallons, should the water supply drop below 65 percent, Mueller said.

The restrictions would also ban car washing, except from a bucket; serving drinking water, except by request and the use of fire hydrants for anything other than fire suppression, she said.

To help the conservation effort, the University has launched its own campaign, using posters and brochures targeted at the students in residence halls, said Betty Wooding, information officer for facilities management.

The University also installed water-conserving showerheads. The new showerheads draw two gallons per minute, instead of six gallons per minute, which the ordinary showerheads consume, Wooding said.

Charlottesville Mayor Virginia Daugherty said she hopes students are aware of the area's situation.

"It's imperative that the students make some personal effort to conserve water," Daugherty said.

But as long as the reservoir stays above 70 percent, restrictions are voluntary, said Judith Mueller, director of Charlottesville Public Works.