WATER: Conservation not working; city’s reserves dip to 37 percent capacity

Tuesday, May 4, 2010 at 8:27pm
Staff reports

Nashvillians do not appear to be heeding a state order to conserve water in Davidson County.

On Monday, Metro’s water reserve was at 64 percent of its capacity. The available supply dipped to 48 percent Tuesday morning and by afternoon, it was down to 37 percent.

Metro Water Services Director Scott Potter has been urging customers to cut their usage as he provides incremental updates on the city's dwindling reserves.

Customers were asked to cut their usage by half when one of the city’s two water treatment plants flooded Saturday night. But many Nashvillians continued to water lawns — often by sprinklers automatically set by a timer — and wash cars splattered with dirt and mud from the record weekend rainfall.

“We’ve got to get people to conserve water because as the demand increases, our reserve capacity is going to go down,” he said.

Car washes remain open

Metro police have asked Nashville's private car wash operators to close up shop until the water shortage has passed. But contrary to some reports, police are not cruising the city and shutting down operations doing business.

According to police spokeswoman Kristin Mumford, the department is in discussions with Metro Legal to explore any recourse that might be available to force car washes to close for the duration of the shortage. As of now, she said, police have simply requested — not ordered — those businesses to stop washing cars.

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation issued a statewide mandatory order to cut water usage in half on Tuesday, the first time it has ever done so on such a scale.

TDEC Commissioner Jim Fyke said residents “should follow the direction of the water utilities as they work to preserve water supplies.”

That has not happened, particularly in Nashville, where officials said Tuesday evening that lack of conservation has resulted in a 63 percent depletion of water reserves.

Nashville’s lone functioning water treatment plant is Omohundro, with the K.R. Harrington plant submerged.

Prison inmates filled and stacked sandbags in a successful effort to save the Omohundro plant. With only a foot to go before water would flood the facility, the Cumberland River crested Monday night at 51.9 feet.

11 Comments on this post:

By: southerngirl on 5/4/10 at 8:19

Part of the problem are the poor people who are trying to rescue some of their belongings that were in the water. They are trying to save what they can by cleaning them as they go. I've seen more than one person on the news using garden hoses to spray off belongings.

I'm not saying I blame them, I just think that has had a large impact on the water supply.

By: idgaf on 5/4/10 at 10:27

The Governor declared a state of emergency so he can shut down the car washes.

Metro legal are ___________

By: NewsReader01 on 5/5/10 at 7:34

I saw some of my neighbors watering their yards yesterday afternoon.....

By: Blanketnazi2 on 5/5/10 at 7:52

i saw some spraying off their patio furniture. Idiots!

By: EquinsuOcha on 5/5/10 at 8:09

Why would anyone be watering their yards after a flood?!........some people are just to stupid to live

By: ROTCMom on 5/5/10 at 9:53

idgaf - are you trying to say that the governor declared a disaster just so he can shut down car washes for a short period of time? Gee, I would think he has much bigger fish to fry at the moment.

By: jsnap on 5/5/10 at 10:10

Was it prison inmates or county inmates sandbagging? There is a difference.

By: budlight on 5/5/10 at 2:00

Did you mean "Poor" as in rich vs poor? Or poor as in sad? I put a sign in my yard that says "urgent - SAVE WATER" and will add another sign saying "CONSERVE WATER" to remind folks.

Also, use paper plates; save your dishwater from day to day by doing the dishes in a big spaghetti pot; next day boil the water or add a tsp clorox. If you cook with water, set it aside and after it cools down, use it for pet drinking; don't run water to brush teeth - you do not have to rinse teeth.

Also, put out some buckets near your roof where the water drains off; even a light rain will produce some run off. Save it for flowers.

Anyone got any more suggestions.

By: mrg on 5/5/10 at 2:32

Report improper water use to kim.minton@nashville.gov

By: rarmour on 5/5/10 at 2:57

>>By: jsnap on 5/5/10 at 11:10
>>Was it prison inmates or county inmates sandbagging? There is a difference.

They were county inmates. There may be a difference from some other type of inmate, but does it have any relevance to this topic?

By: mlboydusa on 5/6/10 at 12:15

What we don't know is what was the city's accounted-for water loss was before the flood. If the truth be known they could be loosing up to 20 percent of their water in underground leakage. Have they made a quick check of their primary distribution system for leakage? Flood damage can take water loss percentages even higher.

Citizens cutting back on water use will help, but we need to look at the immediate infrastructure!