Voluntary water restrictions expected soon

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – If you've been anywhere near the James River recently, you've certainly seen a lot of rocks.  Our river levels are low.

We've just learned Richmond's Department of Public Utilities expects to start voluntary water restrictions soon.

We could really use some help from Mother Nature right about now. If we don't get some significant rain around here soon, you could be charged some extra green to keep your lawn green.

"We're kind of in the ready alert stage," said Department Director Bob Steidel.

This past Friday the river flow was measured at 1386cfs.  Monday morning it was down to 1292cfs.  In just three days, that's a difference of 94 cubic feet per second.  At that rate of decline, we're looking at water restrictions in just a few days.  That voluntary level is at 1200cfs.

That's when the Department of Public Utilities said you'll have to start thinking about using your water wisely, but that's not usually what happens.

"It's funny," Steidel said.  "When you ask for voluntary conservation sometimes it doesn't change at all and sometimes it actually goes up! People start to use more water."

You could see a penalty for that in your water bill.

It's a complicated formula, but here's an example to break it down:  If you use about 60 gal. of water during the winter months and use more than 82 gal. during conservation times, you could be charged  1/10 of a cent more per gallon.  It could add up to prove the department's point.

"It's not a lot of money but it brings to the forefront for you to consider," said Steidel.  "You've made a choice to use a very scarce resource and you pay a little bit more for it."

The fee only goes into effect if the city has had water restrictions for more than thirty days.

In the two years since the fee was adopted, the city hasn't had to use it.

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