Despite an appeal for residents to limit outdoor water uses, the consumption of water in the city is running about twice what it usually is for this time of year, averaging more than 1 million …
Despite an appeal for residents to limit outdoor water uses, the consumption of water in the city is running about twice what it usually is for this time of year, averaging more than 1 million gallons an hour according to Terry DiPetrillo, director of the Warwick Water Division.
“We haven’t seen much change in the numbers,” DiPetrillo said Wednesday when asked if Mayor Frank Picozzi’s appeal for customers of the Warwick water system voluntarily conserve water by limiting outdoor users to every other day based on their address and the date. Odd numbered homes would use water on odd dates and visa versa for even numbered properties.
Mayor Frank Picozzi took to Facebook last Monday to give an update concerning the voluntary odd/ even water schedule.
“We are experiencing moderate drought conditions and, at this point, the restrictions that have been placed on our residents are largely voluntary,” the post reads. “We are asking for your cooperation in conserving water, but we will not be enforcing the restrictions.”
Picozzi in his post said he encourages people who are on city water to continue to do what they need to do during the heatwave.
“While we ask that you cut back on things like watering your lawn every day and washing your car, please continue to water your vegetable gardens and flowers,” the post reads. “Also the weather is expected to be very hot this week so if the kids want to run under the sprinkler or whatever you need to do to keep cool, don’t hesitate. If you have fundraiser carwashes, go ahead and hold them. Again, this is all for customers of the Warwick Water Department. I can’t speak for the Kent County Water Authority.”
The Kent County Water Authority, which services 4,600 Warwick customers, uses the odd-even system throughout the year. David Simmons, KCWA executive director of the authority, termed what we are experiencing now “a moderate drought.”
“We are built to handle much more,” he said of the system. He called the supply – KCWA has its own wells as well as buys from Providence Water – “sufficient,” adding that it is not using its East Greenwich well and that the Mishnock well is at half capacity. The objective of the odd/even system, Simmons said, is to make people aware of water usage and to conserve. He applauds Picozzi for recommending residents adopt the system.
“He said as well, ‘use common sense’,” said Simmons.
So far, DiPetrillo said, supply has not been an issue. Warwick with about 27,000 customers buys its water wholesale from Providence Water Supply. Supply lines feed the Warwick system from Cranston at several locations with major points being in the vicinity of the Route 37 and Route 95 interchange, Pettaconsett and in Natick that replenishes two city-owned tanks on Bald Hill Road with a total capacity of 20 million gallons.
Neither DiPetrillo nor Simmons have received water usage advisories from Providence Water Supply. DiPetrillo said Providence relies on its supply from five reservoirs with Scituate being the largest. On Wednesday the Providence Water Supply reported water level for the Scituate Reservoir was 280.11 feet which equates to being approximately 89% full, this is near the historical average for this time of year (280.57 feet and 90%).
Simmons was surprised at the 1.1 million gallon an hour usage rate reported by DiPetrillo Wednesday. He speculated that that was a peak rate, as it was reported in the morning, and that usage usually peaks in the morning and early evening. He said KCWA, which has about the same number of customers as the Warwick Water Division, is running about 12 million to 15 million gallons a day.
In an email, DiPetrillo said last July that the city used an average of 500,000 to 600,000 gallons per hour for a total of 12 million to 14 million gallons a day. This July, the daily usage is between 21.6 million and 26.4 million gallons a day. As a basis of comparison usage in February was 6 million to 7.2 million gallons a day.
“Comparing the data from July 2021 to July 2022, we see an increase of approximately 82 percent. This is a staggering increase, which is why we implemented a voluntary odd/even schedule depending on your home’s address. Most of the neighboring water authorities have implemented similar water restrictions,” DiPetrillo said.
He noted that some communities have gone as far as implementing a complete ban on all outside watering.
“The City of Warwick wants to avoid such a drastic measure. Residents of the city may continue to water gardens, as well as, flowers but we ask for assistance in adopting the odd/even lawn watering schedule,” DiPetrillo said. He added that the city monitors the Rhode Island Water Resource’s drought guidance, which is updated every Thursday, closely.
DiPetrillo also asked that customers remember that summer usage is reflected on the December bill.