By Sarah Richardson
On Monday, Sept. 23, the City of Lewisburg released a statement on their Facebook page advising municipal water system customers to enter a “voluntary water conservation” due to low river levels.
However, Public Works Director Roger Pence, the author of the post, says that the title “voluntary water conservation” was added by another page administrator, and the city is not under any official conservation measure.
“Please help conserve water by not using it for non-essential uses such as car washes, watering lawns and gardens, pressure washing and swimming pools,” the announcement states. “The Greenbrier River is extremely low and very little if any rain is in the area forecast for several days. Low water levels put stresses on the system which may lead to water leaks and pump failures. Currently, we are still pumping at normal levels and are near full capacity of storage in our tanks. However, it is possible that the situation could call for mandatory water conservation measures in the near future. Thank you for doing your part to conserve our drinking water.”
Pence clarified that he wrote the post in order to avoid an official conservation, and said there are no issues affecting the water system that mandate any official conservation level.
“What we have, officially, are conservation directives,” said Pence. “We have a voluntary water conservation directive and a mandatory conservation directive. Those directives come from the mayor’s office, it won’t just be a post on Facebook or something of that nature.”
He explained that a voluntary conservation directive is implemented when there is a situation in the system that is affecting or could affect the city’s ability to provide water to customers. A mandatory conservation directive comes after there has already been a voluntary directive, and means the situation has deteriorated to a point where more serious measures have to be taken in order to keep water pressures up.
Pence said that after the city had received comments from residents concerned about the low water levels in the river, he thought it would be a good opportunity to make a comment suggesting users conserve water, which is something he says residents should consider doing at all times of the year.
“We can’t do a directive because there is not a defect, we just know it’s been really dry and the water levels in the river are low, but it’s not really affecting us yet,” said Pence. “The system is running like it should, we are getting leaks fixed, tank levels are good, and we are fortunate in that we have a large, forested watershed to pull water from.”
He added, “The Greenbrier looks really low, and it is, but we have never had the river low enough for it to be an issue. We have a good pool at our water intake, and we could probably operate in as low as two feet of water just fine, and we have more than that now.”