Fairhope residents asked to voluntarily conserve water and electricity

Published: Jun. 17, 2022 at 9:26 PM CDT
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FAIRHOPE, Ala. (WALA) - That excessive heat has some people on the Eastern Shore being asked to conserve water and electricity. The City of Fairhope says it’s just voluntary now -- but that could change.

It comes after a dramatic increase in water usage. According to Fairhope Mayor Sherry Sullivan, “At this time, the Fairhope water system is averaging 1 million more gallons of water per day than a year ago at this time. For reference, on June 14th, 2021, the system pumped 7,421,000 gallons compared to the June 14th, 2022, rate of 8,276,000 gallons pumped. The system’s current capacity for service is just over 9 million gallons.”

They’re now asking residents to do their part.

“Whoo. It’s warm! No doubt about it. I think the only thing that is really saving us right now is we have a pool. So we can get in the pool and cool off. But the plants are dying -- they look awful. In fact, before we came downtown tonight we were plucking off leaves - it’s just hot -- our grass looks awful, but I feel guilty watering,” said Debra & Jason Schmitt, Fairhope residents.

Because water demand has reached over 80% capacity over 7 consecutive days -- customers who use Fairhope Utilities water are encouraged to limit their water usage to what is necessary.

Meanwhile, starting Monday, June 20 -- the splash pad at Fairhope Community Park will be turned off for the day to allow for maintenance and to the Water Department to evaluate the water consumption.

Brothers -- Ayden and Ethan Allen -- are regulars and love to cool down at the splash pad. According to the city it will reopen Tuesday, June 21 -- but may have reduced hours.

“Very fun! Lee: What do you like about it most? -- We get to play in the water. You know what part I like about it -- that alligator thing over there... I just get to do this to my brother,” said Ayden & Ethan Allen.

Add in the energy usage -- folks can expect it to impact their bills -- Fairhope Public Utilities customers are urged to reduce usage from 1-to-7 p.m. -- turning up the AC, using ceiling fans, turning off lights in unoccupied rooms.

Looking ahead to July and August -- it could be a long summer.

“When you grow up here like I did -- you just forget about it and then it comes back and you’re like -- oh -- this is what humid Alabama in the south is. Lee: We always forget. -- We do forget -- short memories,” said Debra and Jason Schmitt.

The earliest any kind of mandatory water conservation policy could happen would be June 27. For now they’ll continue monitoring the situation.

The following is the post from the City of Fairhope in its entirety:

Fairhope Public Utilities has announced several important updates for Water and Electric customers

Due to the unprecedented heat, rising energy costs across all disciplines and a period of significant dry weather, a few changes will need to be made by customers beginning immediately.

“At this time, the Fairhope water system is averaging 1 million more gallons of water per day than a year ago at this time,” said Mayor Sherry Sullivan. “For reference, on June 14th, 2021, the system pumped 7,421,000 gallons compared to the June 14th, 2022, rate of 8,276,000 gallons pumped. The system’s current capacity for service is just over 9 million gallons.”

Fairhope’s water conservation ordinance, which was adopted in May 2020, outlines three phases of water conservation response, and officials are now implementing the voluntary and highly encouraged Phase I of this plan.

Phase I, which is implemented when demand reaches an average of 80 percent capacity over 7 consecutive days, states that all customers who use Fairhope Utilities water are encouraged to limit the amount of water used to what is only necessary for health, business and outdoor use.

To this end, beginning Monday, June 20th, the splash pad at Fairhope Community Park will be turned off for the day to allow for maintenance and enable the Water Department to evaluate the consumption of water. As of now, the splash pad will reopen on Tuesday but may have reduced hours.

“All water customers are respectfully asked to comply with the Phase I restrictions,” Sullivan said. “Compliance will help determine how the system moves forward in the coming weeks.”

If the demand does not improve, the Fairhope City Council can declare a water emergency and the remaining implemented phases will be mandatory.

The earliest this could happen is June 27th unless drastic improvement is made. Phases II and II require mandatory compliance for landscaping irrigation, filling of swimming pools, washing of driveways and more.

If implemented, Phase II and III restrictions will be in effect until lifted by the City Council or until demand is at or below 100% of capacity for 7 days.

For electric customers, the increased energy usage as a result of 100+ degree weather we have been and are expected to continue to see will affect bills. To this end, customers are asked to reduce energy usage from 1-7 p.m. each day by making wise energy choices.

Some suggested tactics include bumping up the air conditioner temperature by 4-5 degrees, using ceiling fans, replacing air filters, turning off lights in unoccupied rooms, and keeping curtains and blinds closed during the peak hours of the day.

“Fairhope Public Utilities and the City of Fairhope urge you do your part to help keep your energy costs as low as possible,” Sullivan said.

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