Fairhope encouraging responsible water use

Published: Mar. 23, 2023 at 6:26 PM CDT
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FAIRHOPE, Ala. (WALA) - The city of Fairhope is encouraging residents to go easy on irrigation and water use this spring. Last year, the city had to restrict use because of a low water table and excessive use. The city’s already seen some high daily usage totals and a system expansion that’s underway won’t be finished until next year.

It was last June when Fairhope came close to imposing mandatory water restrictions on its residents. That’s because the city had come close to its maximum daily capacity of 9-million-gallons. Spring isn’t yet here and there are already concerns again. The superintendent of the Fairhope Water Department recently told the Fairhope City Council more than 6.7 million gallons of water were used one day in February.

Delays in water system infrastructure improvements could mean more water shortages this year
Delays in water system infrastructure improvements could mean more water shortages this year(Hal Scheurich)

“When you have that, again…an extended period of time without rain, people start using their water, so we did see where we were using six to seven million gallons of water in February which is unusual for us. Typically, you don’t see those till May,” explained Fairhope mayor, Sherry Sullivan.

The concern is that may be a sign of what’s ahead if we have another unusually dry spring and summer. Sullivan said she hopes to not have another shortage like last year, but citizens should still use water conservatively.

“Hopefully, we’ll continue to get rainfall and we won’t see that happen again, but we do have that water conservation ordinance that we put in place several years ago, that if we had to enact that, we could, but we’re going to start some social media just to educate people ahead of time on some things you can do to conserve,” Sullivan said.

So, what can you do now? One thing Old Tyme Feed on Greeno Road did after last year’s shortage was install a water meter just for their irrigation system so they can monitor usage. The strain on the system comes from irrigating lawns and gardens. Experts there said it’s important to know when and how much to water.

“One of the issues with a lot of the plants that we sell is that folks tend to overwater. They do that also with their lawns. They water at the wrong time of the day. They water in the afternoon, which is terrible,” said Cecil Christenberry with Old Tyme Feed. “It’s better to water early in the morning and it’s better to underwater than to overwater. A lot of plants will drown if they get too much water.”

City officials said an additional well should be online by the first of next year and a new 24-inch feeder pipe by this time next year. That will increase the city’s daily capacity by two-million-gallons per day.