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Summer water consumption higher than usual

By Catherine Godbey · 340-2441

September ushers in a fresh football season, fall foliage and cooler weather accompanied with lower electricity bills — or so Decatur residents may hope.

The extreme drought and excessive heat that harassed Decatur from June through August affected the lawns, gardens and electricity bills of Decatur Utilities customers.

Residents, attempting to sustain plants suffering from the drought, unfurled their water hoses, providing what Mother Nature could not. That appeared on the monthly electric bills as higher-than-usual water expenses.

Gary Borden, DU’s Gas, Water and Wastewater manager, said customers typically use more water during summer months because of outdoor activities such as washing cars and watering lawns.

The annual summer increase, compounded by the prolonged drought, produced an extreme effect on the amount of water DU customers consumed.

A financial summary examining the nine-month period ending June 30 for the 2006 and 2007 fiscal years evidenced the drought’s impact. According to the summary, DU customers used 7.2 billion gallons in 2007, a 9 percent increase from the previous year.

Every consumer section, consisting of residential, commercial and industrial customers, experienced an increase in water consumption.

Residential customers increased their water intake by 8 percent to 1.31 billion gallons, which equals more than 60,000 gallons per customer.

When DU analyzes the numbers from July and August, Borden expects to see the trend of increased consumption.

“The drier weather has definitely increased the gallons used,” Borden said. “Drive down the street, and you see sprinklers everywhere.”

With cooler temperatures and rain in the forecast, DU customers should expect relief from the scorching temperatures and electricity bills.

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