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CONSERVATION AND MANAGEMENT OF WATER RESOURCES – THE SPARTANBURG, SOUTH CAROLINA, DROUGHT EXPERIENCE
Historically, conservation of water resources occurs either during periods of drought or when certain external factors (such as growth) create a situation where water supplies are stretched to their limit. Until recently, little if any thought has been given to managing water resources
during non-critical periods. However, with unpredictable weather patterns, along with increased demands for water, more attention is being directed at managing water resources on a continuous, year-round basis. This “management” of resources can be accomplished in a number of different
ways, including but not limited to customer education, alternative rate structures, and mandatory restrictions.
Spartanburg Water System (SWS), located in Spartanburg, South Carolina, recently implemented a mandatory outside watering restriction regime for customers within its service area.
The purpose behind the watering restriction was to attenuate the availability of ample water supplies in its reservoirs in the wake of a five-year drought. This drought, which produced a record deficit rainfall of 55+ inches during the five-year period, created concerns regarding SWS's
ability to meet system demands should the drought continue for an additional 12 months. To react to this concern, SWS implemented several measures, including the previously mentioned outside watering restrictions, aimed at reducing the rate available reservoir water supplies were being depleted.
With a 20% system-wide reduction goal, SWS was able to reduce water demand, prolong available water supplies, and ensure that water would continue to be available for its customers in the future.
As a result of the most recent drought, many lessons were learned. First and foremost,
management of water resources should be continuous, and long-range planning efforts should target reduction of both peak and average daily demands. Moreover, efforts should be made to increase public education regarding water conservation. In examining near-term historical water demands, SWS
has been able to effectively manage and reduce these demands through the implementation of various management techniques.
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