The Town of Winnsboro’s Extreme Drought Phase Proclamation, passed by Town Council in February — and which seeks to limit residential water use to 45 gallons per person per day and also forbids car washing, lawn watering, fire drills from hydrants, or even getting an unsolicited glass of water from a restaurant — has taken a toll on the recreation fields of a local school.
At their regular meeting Monday evening, Fairfield Central High School’s new athletic director Rahim El-Amin spoke before the council to ask permission to water four sports fields.
“On behalf of Fairfield Central High School, I would like to request water for our athletic fields. We have four fields that need water: two football fields, a softball and baseball field,” El-Amin said. “If you look at the use the two football fields get, not only does the high school use it, but the middle school and recreation department use it as well. We need to prepare the football fields for play to prevent injuries. If an athlete makes a sudden cut and falls down, he could be injured. We need to water now to get the grass roots established.”
El-Amin told the Council the school needs to water the softball and baseball fields minimally, but the two football fields need to be watered four times a week, which he said would require 84,000 gallons each week.
As a comparison, an Olympic-size swimming pool holds 660,430 gallons of water.
The Town’s Extreme Drought Phase of their Drought Management and Response Ordinance of June 3, 2003 states that conservation may include “Imposing a drought surcharge per thousand gallons of water that increases with higher usage. The general principal behind the drought surcharge is that the fee is imposed on water use in excess of 6,000 gallons of normal monthly use. The drought surcharge is a temporary fee imposed during the current water supply shortage and is not a cost-based rate.” The excessive rate schedule suggests that water use over 8,000 gallons per month be charged at three times the normal rate.
The 2003 Ordinance also provides for water rationing.
“If a drought threatens the protection of public health and safety, the Town of Winnsboro is hereby authorized to ration water.”
The Drought Ordinance specifically explains the variance policy.
“Customers, who in their belief are unable to comply with the mandatory water use restrictions of the Drought Response Ordinance, may petition for a variance from restrictions by filing a petition with the Town of Winnsboro within 10 working days after the issuance of the Proclamation requiring water use restrictions. In order for the variance to be granted, the petitioner must demonstrate clearly that compliance with the Ordinance cannot be technically accomplished during the duration of the water supply shortage without having an adverse impact upon the best interests of the community. In addition, the Town of Winnsboro is authorized to grant temporary variances for existing water uses otherwise prohibited in the Ordinance if it is determined that failure to grant such variances could cause an emergency condition adversely affecting the health, sanitation and fire protection for the public.”
“We will discuss it with legal council and let you know,” Mayor Roger Gaddy told El-Amin.
The Town Council is expected to vote on the request at their next meeting, May 1.