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Water usage in CNY expected to double during heat wave

Inside an OCWA water storage facility in the Town of Clay
Ellen Abbott
Inside an OCWA water storage facility in the Town of Clay

Water usage in central New York is expected to increase by 50% during the current heatwave, but the agency that controls the area's water supply is prepared.

Onondaga County Water Authority Operations Director Geoff Miller said the peak time for water usage generally comes shortly before the Fourth of July.

“Usually the week leading up to it is when we see everybody, if they haven't already gotten their pools ready, they're filling their pools and getting their pools ready, all their landscaping and everything,” Miller said. “So this is about two weeks early this year that we're seeing that seeing a peak.”

Miller said the average water usage in central New York is about 36,000,000 gallons a day. He expects it to jump to about 55,000,000 gallons per day during the heatwave

“It's the pools, the slip-n-slides, the sprinklers, the kids out in the sprinklers and playing,” he said. “That's where really the demand's going up. And then you'll see a lot of the golf courses, watering the greens and the fairways, and then also people that are watering their lawns and gardens.”

To make sure faucets continue to flow smoothly, OCWA is doing a couple of things. Executive Director Jeff Brown said step one is deferring all maintenance at the 63 storage facilities scattered throughout the system that serves five counties.

“We increase the water storage levels. During normal usage periods we keep the water levels somewhere in the middle of our water storage tanks but during peak periods we fill them completely up to the to,” Brown said. “We also go around and make sure our generators are ready to work, in case there's a brownout or a blackout situation."

OCWA says there is no reason now to restrict water usage. That would only be the case in the event of a drought situation. The agency also keeps close tabs on water quality, raising chlorine levels as necessary. OCWA sources its water from Otisco Lake and Lake Ontario, which both include granular carbon that takes impurities out of the water supply.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.