By Kyle Peveto, Page Editor
Water conservation plans for the City of Abilene have changed for the fourth time since 1998.
The city now allows ornamental fountains to run through the stage two water warning, the point where residents are allowed to water their lawns once every two weeks. Revised conservation plans have changed the watering days for residents and also allow businesses to water on a weekday instead of only on weekends.
“Basically, we get citizen input and citizen complaints,” said Angela McGlothlin, assistant to the director of water utilities. “Obviously restrictions are not convenient for anyone, but when we notice there is a general complaint, we see that there is something we can do to make it easier for everyone.”
Many problems resulted from leaving fountains turned off much of the time.
“A lot of people were incurring damage to fountains,” McGlothlin said. “It wasn’t cost effective to make them turn them off.”
Most of the water conservation guidelines apply to outdoor water usage.
“If people flush a toilet or let water run down a drain, we can reuse it,” McGlothlin said. “We can treat it and use it again…but if people let it run down the street or water their lawn too much, we can never get it back.”
Half the summer water usage is spent watering landscaping, according to McGlothlin.
Most businesses and large entities in Abilene, such as ACU, have begun using reclaimed water for landscaping to aid in conserving water.
Abilene has had a drought emergency plan in effect since 1984. Limiting outdoor water usage has occurred since 1998, the year of the record drought for Abilene.
“Up until then the drought of record was the 1950s,” McGlothlin said. “That’s the drought everyone referred to when they talked about the ‘big drought.'”
The drought of 1998 was compounded by the largest record consumption of water the city had ever faced.
Though Abilene may have great times of rain and even flood, like the July 2002 flood that greatly aided the lake levels, the city will always restrict water usage.
“The City Council…decided it was not a good idea, living in West Texas, to allow people to water whenever they wanted to,” McGlothlin said. “[They wanted to] keep people in the conservation frame of mind.”
Students can contribute to water conservation by using common sense to not waste water.