As hot, dry conditions continue across Tennessee, Gov. Phil Bredesen urges every Tennessean to conserve water.
“We are now entering our traditional dry season in Tennessee and while most parts of the state have adequate water supplies at the moment, there are areas that are experiencing strains on their water systems and we need to be thinking about the months ahead,” said Bredesen. “Maintaining an adequate water supply for Tennesseans’ critical needs is an issue of both supply and demand.”
The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Environment and Conservation are working with other local, state and federal agencies to track Tennessee’s water needs and provide support where necessary, officials said.
“Currently, there are 47 public water systems in Tennessee that have experienced issues ranging from declining water sources to water demand exceeding the capacity of treatment plants, distribution pipes and/or pump systems,” said Environment and Conservation Commissioner Jim Fyke. “When water utilities ask their customers to conserve, we urge people to respond accordingly.”
Some water systems have also experienced issues with taste and odor. Taste and odor are generally worse in those areas where stream flow has diminished and source water is collected closer to the bottom of the stream, or where algae is imparting a taste and odor to the water. Taste and odor issues in water from public water systems are aesthetic in nature, and do not pose a safety or health risk.
Some reported water outages are due to private wells running dry or ponds used to water livestock running dry. The first point of contact for any Tennessean experiencing problems accessing water for critical needs is their local emergency management agency, which then coordinates with TEMA when additional support is required. The contact information for each county’s emergency management agency can be found on TEMA’s website at: http://www.tnema.org/.
Some simple things Tennesseans can do to conserve water include:
- Refrain from watering lawns, washing cars or other non-critical water uses
- Fix all leaky plumbing fixtures, including outdoor hoses
- Install sink faucets with aerators, motion sensors, or automatic shut-offs
- Install low-flow shower heads
- Run washing machines and dishwashers only with full loads
“In times of serious drought such as the one we are currently experiencing, conserving water can be an issue of public health and welfare,” said TEMA Director James Bassham. “We need to be sure communities can maintain the water they need to drink, and we also need to make sure there is water available for other critical needs such as fire suppression.”
TEMA, the Department of Environment and Conservation and other state and federal agencies including the Department of Agriculture, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, the National Weather Service, TVA, the Army Corps of Engineers and the Tennessee Association of Utility Districts are part of a drought task force that provides a formal mechanism for agencies to discuss issues and solutions related to the drought. Drought Task Force reports are also posted on TEMA’s website at the link above.
For more information about water conservation options, visit Environment and Conservation’s website at: http://www.state.tn.us/environment/ea/eo/eo_water.shtml.