WG&L officials remind Albany residents that the state remains on a permanent non-drought water restriction. Residents are allowed to use their sprinkler systems each day from 4 p.m. to 10 a.m.
ALBANY — The unmistakable clicking sound generated by underground sprinkler systems is becoming common background noise in neighborhoods throughout Albany and Southwest Georgia.
As lawns are greening and flowers are being planted, more and more of the 40,000 customers of Albany’s Water, Gas & Light Department are increasing their water consumption.
Although the water usage policy is extremely lenient, WG&L spokesperson Lorie Farkas said there are some restrictions that customers might not recall from year to year.
Farkas, WG&L’s assistant general manager for customer relations, says people tend to forget that former Gov. Sonny Perdue instituted permanent non-drought water restrictions that remain in place.
“People don’t use much water outside over the winter, but they need to know that we still have these restrictions,” she said.
All WG&L customers can use water any day of the week for “living things” after 4 p.m. and before 10 a.m. The previous even-odd address rotation does not come into play.
“There are two exemptions to this,” Farkas said. “If you have a vegetable garden, you can water as needed. You can water any time, but we hope people know not to water in the middle of the day. It will just evaporate.”
Also, people who have private wells can use that water at any time. Farkas said WG&L staffers are aware of most of the private wells in the city.
Customers who have just planted new sod or had extensive landscaping done, Farkas said, get a one-month reprieve before the 4 p.m.-until-10 a.m. rule is enforced.
The rules listed are for living things only, Farkas noted. For other uses, such as car-washing, washing windows or pressure-washing houses, residents are required to adhere to the even-odd rule.
“Any odd-numbered address can use outside water for nonliving things on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays,” she said. “Even(-numbered) addresses can use water on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.
“No one can use water on Friday for nonliving things.”
Albany is blessed with an abundant supply of pure water. It’s the key reason MillerCoors brewery opened here and a key reason Procter & Gamble located in Albany.
Most of the water arriving in the underground reservoirs here comes from areas just northwest of Albany, Farkas said.
“We’re built on these lime caverns that act as a natural filter as the water bubbles back out of the ground,” Farkas said. “It’s 99.9 percent pure.”
The only additive provided by WG&L is fluoride for teeth and chlorine to prevent bacteria, especially where the 600 miles of water pipes in the city are joined.
“When you turn on the tap, the water you are drinking is 30 to 40 years old,” Farkas said. “It percolates through the earth and comes back through our lime filtering system.”
The water, Farkas contends, is much better for bottled water.
“When you buy bottled water, it’s the only thing we ingest that has no government oversight,” she said. “It can come out of a swamp, and you can put a label on it and sell it.
“It (bottled water) may be great at a sporting event or when you’re traveling, but water in Albany is the way to go.”
Farkas said the additional water usage on lawns and gardens will cause an increase in water bills.
WG&L customers pay $10.13 for the first 3,000 gallons of water consumed each month. For typical customers without a sprinkler system or swimming pool, the water portion of their WG&L bill will be $10 to $20 monthly.
Farkas advises sprinkler system owners to perform periodic checks of their system to make sure the sprinkler heads are working properly and are directed to the intended targets and not watering streets and driveways.
Despite the increased water usage in the spring and summer, Farkas said WG&L is not at risk of running short of water. The state allows WG&L to pump up to 19 million gallons of water each day.
“Even in the dead of summer, we don’t get near that,” she said.