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Melbourne Mayor urges residents to cut their water usage

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Hot, dry weather has Melbourne residents using so much water, the water company is having a hard time keeping its storage tanks filled. Mayor Shannon Womack has issued an appeal for residents to reduce outside watering and cut back other unnecessary water use, saying continued high usage could result in a "loss of their water supply." Photo by Richard Irby [Order this photo]
Melbourne Mayor Shannon Womack has issued an alert urging residents in his city to conserve water.

"Due to the extremely dry and hot weather, we have been experiencing a water supply shortage," Womack said in a statement sent to all Melbourne Water Company customers. "Continued high usage of water will result in all water customers facing the loss of their water supply."

Womack told The News water usage usually goes up in hot weather, but the Melbourne water system is not equipped for such a long period of heat and drought.

"We have two water storage tanks, and people are using so much water that we can't keep them full. People are using water faster than we can pump it into the tanks," Womack said. "The one at Highway 69 and LaCrosse Road was built about 30 years ago, and there has been a lot of growth in that area, so water pressure is being affected in that part of town. Some customers are experiencing low pressure or no water at all hardly."

The current water supply problem is an indication the city needs to eventually add more storage capacity but, for now, customers need to help by reducing the amount of water they are using.

"We're asking people to conserve water by not watering lawns and reducing other unnecessary usage," Womack said.

Salem Public Works Director Bill Worsham said the Salem Water Department is dealing with an increase in water leaks, which seem to occur in hot, dry weather. But, with an 875,000 gallon storage tank and two wells, it is not experiencing any water supply problems.

Mayor Womack said his department is also finding more leaks in old cast iron pipelines, which add to water pressure problems. With no end in sight to the hot and dry conditions, Womack fears many customers will experience water supply problems all summer.

Melbourne is not the only Arkansas city concerned about water usage.

The Arkansas Department of Health reports drought and high temperatures have resulted in public water systems across the state experiencing very high water demands, and many of the systems are requesting that their customers observe water conservation measures.

Department of Health Engineering Director Jeff Stone said people need to consciously try to cut water consumption, so there will be an adequate supply for such vital uses as drinking water and fire protection.

"Wise use of water by individual customers can make a dramatic difference in whether shortages are experienced," Stone said.

The Department of Health has listed a number of ways homeowners can cut water usage. They include:

* Water lawns every other day or only when they need it, and water in the cool part of the day.

* Mulch around trees and plants, as mulch holds moisture longer and slows evaporation.

* Sweep sidewalks and driveways, rather than hose them down with water.

* Use automatic dishwashers and washing machines when you have full loads.

* Install water-saving showerheads or flow restrictors, and take quick showers instead of baths.

* Don't let the water run continuously when brushing teeth or shaving.

* Check faucets, pipes and toilers for drips and leaks.

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