Voluntary water restrictions on the way

By Gene Petriello - bio | email
By Melissa Correa - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Get ready for water restrictions. The lack of rain may mean several cities and towns will be placed under voluntary restrictions starting Monday.

A little water goes a long way in Patrice Stansbury's garden.

"Do they require a lot of water? They require some," said Patrice.

Despite nearly three acres of lush, green landscape, the Bon Air woman shies away from man-made downpours.

"The idea of having an expansive green lawn is really kind of passé in the 21st century, because water is a premium," she said.

She's absolutely right. Water consumption at Lake Chesdin is at an all time high in Chesterfield.

"Chesterfield County Utilities, which is our largest customer, has set record days for their water consumption this year," said James Dawson with the Appomattox River Water Authority. "They set the first one back on July 5 and they've broken it four times since then."

Ideally water levels at Lake Chesdin should sit at, or above the zero marker. Right now, they're about 24 inches below it.

"We're at this level about three weeks earlier than we've ever been here in my recent history," said Dawson.

Dawson worries if people don't follow the voluntary restrictions, mandatory water rules could come.

"All we're asking them to do is use water wisely," he said.

The difference between voluntary and mandatory restrictions is the number of days of storage in Lake Chesdin. A 300 day reserve means voluntary. Only 200 days make restrictions mandatory.

Patrice and her plants have no problem with the adjustments.

"If we just have enough water to drink, we're better off than most people in the world," Patrice said.

Petersburg, Colonial Heights, Dinwiddie and Prince George also get water from Lake Chesdin. Earlier today, the Appomattox River Water Authority advised voluntary restrictions in those areas as well. In Richmond, the city is ready to issue a "ready alert" Tuesday.

Angela Fountain from Richmond Public Utilities says voluntary conservation measures could just be the beginning.

"We'll be in voluntary for at least 14 days then if weather pattern continues for those 14 days then of course we'll go into mandatory," said Fountain.

This is the first time in nearly two years since the city of Richmond will likely call voluntary water restrictions.

Copyright 2010 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.