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Record Athens water demand record water demand in Athens
Usage increasing throughout area

By Holly Hollman 340-2445

Athens water customers set a record for the year when they used 9.5 million gallons of water May 26.

"That's early in the summer for that demand," said Water Department Manager John Stockton. "Our demand's gone up about 50 percent over the last 10 days."

Customers in Decatur and other local cities also are using more water this year due to lack of rain.

The National Weather Service's Huntsville office reported that the area remains in an extreme drought.

As of Friday, there had not been any measurable rainfall in the Central Tennessee Valley for more than two weeks, according to the service.

Despite the drought and demand for water, Stockton said, there is no concern for water shortage. Athens gets its water from the Elk River.

"We could pump 18 million gallons in a day if we needed to," Stockton said, "so we're not in jeopardy of not having enough."

Athens does not buy water from any other utility but does sell water to the Limestone County Water and Sewer Authority. Stockton said the authority has been buying about 2 million gallons a day.

Water usage is up across the local area.

Decatur Utilities interim General Manager Stan Keenum said the drought increased water usage in April and May compared with the same months last year.

Customers used 1.65 million gallons more in April of this year compared with April 2006.

Likewise, comparisons of May show an increase. May 2006's average was 27.4 million gallons a day compared to May this year at 32.9 million.

Keenum said the highest demand in May was 40.6 million gallons on May 24.

"We won't peak until the August-September time frame," he said. "But we get our water from the Tennessee River, so for now, there's no concern of shortage."

Hartselle Utilities General Manager Ferrell Vest said customers there used 500,000 gallons more this April than April 2006. Vest did not have May figures.

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