Droughts and shortages have made many people realize water is not a disposable resource. Thomson-McDuffie water system officials agree.
Customers are now being asked to do their part in helping to conserve McDuffie County's water resources.
"What was once thought to be a resource that could never be depleted is beginning to show strains," said Thomson City Administrator Bob Flanders. "Now we'll probably always have plenty of water, but the question is will we always have plenty of water that is easily treated?"
Currently, water conservation kits are available at Thomson City Hall, and hundreds of them have already been given out. The kits contain shower and faucet heads that decrease the water flow while increasing the pressure.
There are also dye tablets to check for toilet leaks. The kits contain a water displacement device for toilets as well so that less water is used during each flush.
"The biggest thing is to avoid waste," said Thomson-McDuffie Drinking Water Facilities Director George Nichols. "Water is not a forever source, and we're just trying to educate the public to where they won't waste so much water."
According to Niagara Conservation, an average of 85.5 gallons of water can be saved each day by using an efficient showerhead, and 48.4 gallons can be saved by using an efficient toilet.
"If people don't use the water, we don't have to produce it," Mr. Flanders said. "Singly and individually it's not much, but collectively it begins to add up and makes a lot of difference."
State-wide lawn watering restrictions -- the odd-even system -- are probably permanently in place, according to Mr. Nichols. Other ways people can help conserve are not running the faucet while shaving or brushing teeth, repairing leaks and only running a fully loaded washing machine or dishwasher.
The conservation effort in McDuffie County is along the lines of what the state of Georgia is recommending. But with ever-tightening restrictions on byproducts produced during chlorination, keeping the water in compliance requires some waste prior to the consumer's contact with the finished product.
"We do waste quite a bit keeping the water in compliance with the disinfection byproducts," Mr. Nichols said. "It doesn't seem right that we're crying 'conservation,' but at the same time to keep the water in compliance with the numbers that the state of Georgia has, we have to waste a million gallons of water a month."
Currently, enough water must be produced to be distributed to the rural areas of the county. But a shortage of customers in those areas leaves the much water sitting in the pipes, making flushing necessary to keep the water fresh.
The expansion of the system that is planned for the next two years should end the flushing, according to Mr. Nichols. A carbon filter will be added to eliminate disinfection byproducts and more water customers will keep the water moving and fresher.
After those additions are made, the conservation effort should begin to make headway in McDuffie.