The Collegian
Saturday, December 10, 2022

Dry James River prompts mandatory water restrictions

The City of Richmond and Henrico County announced mandatory water restrictions on Thursday as a dry summer and low water levels in the James River continue to plague the area.

"All of us are the trustees of our environment and we must take every step possible to conserve water for the sake of our community," Chris Beschler, the city's public utilities director, said in a statement.

University facilities officials warned that the campus's appearance, which already appears dry in several places, may worsen while water is conserved. The school has adopted a policy conforming to conservation rules for Henrico County and the city because the campus is divided between both jurisdictions.

"These measures are designed to respect local water use restrictions and to go well beyond in our efforts to minimize the overall effects of this condition," a university statement read. "We ask the campus community to be patient with some deterioration in campus appearance."

The dry conditions are nothing new on campus, said Brian Eckert, director of media and public relations for the university.

"This drought has been on everybody's radar screen for several weeks now," he said. "We've had consistently high temperatures combined with unusually low moisture, and no real rainfall for almost a month now."

The University will be turning off and draining all decorative fountains, shutting down the vehicle wash station and postponing new plantings until conditions improve, facilities staff said. Watering systems on campus will be turned off except for limited use on playing fields in order to prevent injury to players.

Facilities staff are asking students to report problems with dripping faucets and running toilets.

A gauge near the Huguenot Bridge, which monitors the James River's flow, has measured the river below 750 cubic feet per second, meaning mandatory water restrictions go into effect, according to official guidelines.

Officials from the Henrico County Department of Public Utilities said in a statement that water conservation measures will be in place until "significant rainfall eliminates the current low water levels."

Doug LeCompte, who works at the National Weather Service's Climate Prediction Center in Camp Springs, Md., said that conditions are not expected to improve in the region right away.

"The outlook for the next five days is pretty grim so things will get worse," he said. "However, the forecast for the season as a whole looks good. There is a lot of moisture headed up north from the Gulf of Mexico so you should see some improvement at the end of that period, and [it will] continue to improve through November."

Enjoy what you're reading?
Signup for our newsletter

The National Weather Service is predicting sunny and dry weather through Tuesday, when there's a 30 percent chance of rain. That will remain in effect for the rest of the week.

The city's Department of Public Utilities will charge customers who use more than 140 percent of their normal winter water allotment -- water used between December and February -- a higher commodity rate for waste, a news release read.

A drought last year also resulted in mandatory water restrictions for the area, including the university.

Support independent student media

You can make a tax-deductible donation by clicking the button below, which takes you to our secure PayPal account. The page is set up to receive contributions in whatever amount you designate. We look forward to using the money we raise to further our mission of providing honest and accurate information to students, faculty, staff, alumni and others in the general public.

Donate Now