Tryon approves water shortage response plan

Published 10:28 pm Thursday, December 20, 2012

Polk currently in moderate drought

The Town of Tryon approved an updated water shortage response plan this week after over a year of concerns with the state’s recommended restrictions during times of drought.

The town’s new plan, approved on Tuesday, Dec. 18, follows the state drought monitor, which is updated every Thursday at

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Currently Polk County is under moderate drought conditions, which according to Tryon’s water shortage response plan, customers should be under voluntary water restrictions, including not watering yards or washing vehicles.

Tryon’s concerns with the state’s recommended plan included charges to customers who go over minimum water usage during stages IV (exceptional drought) and V (water crisis). Commissioner Wim Woody particularly expressed concern with the state calling for charging customers 50 and 100 percent when more than minimum water was used. Tryon decided to change the percentages to 10 and 20 percent for persons during the last two stages who use water above the town’s minimum usage.

In the event the town enters stage IV water restrictions, Tryon’s water shortage response plan states “a surcharge of 10 percent of the minimum usage rate will be added to each water bill where customer usage surpasses minimum usage. If customer usage is ‘equal or more than’ double the minimum usage rate, a surcharge of 20 percent of the minimum usage rate will be added.”

Tryon’s plan calls for officials to implement voluntary or mandatory restrictions according to the drought monitor. When the drought monitor puts Polk County in abnormally dry conditions, Tryon will be under stage 0 classifications, which calls for mandatory conservation. Customers are asked to limit water usage, such as limiting watering lawns and gardens, car washing, running faucets, limiting clothes washing and showering instead of bathing.

When the drought monitor classifies Polk County in moderate drought conditions, Tryon is under stage 1 restrictions and it becomes unlawful for customers along with stage 0 measures to water lawns and gardens, wash automobiles and fill swimming pools, among other restrictions.

Stage II restrictions will be enacted when the drought monitor classifies Polk as in a severe drought, which is when mandatory restrictions begin. Besides stage 0 and stage 1 restrictions, stage II includes it being unlawful to serve drinking water in restaurants and running non-recyclable water-cooled air conditioners.

Stage III is implemented when the drought monitor classifies Polk County in an extreme drought and adds mandatory restrictions such as drafting water out of ponds and rivers for fire protection and using disposable utensils and plates at all eating establishments.

At stage IV mandatory water restrictions, or when Polk is in an exceptional drought, the plan requires the town fire department to bring in non-potable water by truck to be used for toilet flushing and other uses where potable water is not required. The National Guard may also be asked to assist the town during stage IV restrictions by use of their “water buffalo” wagons. The town during stage IV restrictions is to establish an account with a potable water bottling company in preparation of buying large amounts of bottled water.

Stage IV is the first state of emergency and can also be declared when water stops running over the weir of the Lake Lanier Dam.

Stage V restrictions would mean customers are not allowed to use the town’s water for any reason.

The town would purchase potable water for its customers to pick up, the level of Lake Lanier will be monitored frequently and if the pumps become inoperable a boil water notice shall be issued for all water coming rom the town’s water treatment plant. At stage V restrictions, Tryon will also contact the N.C. Department of Natural Resources to ask for the governor of North Carolina for assistance during the water shortage emergency.

Tryon has held public input opportunities regarding the proposed water shortage response plan and since council’s approval of the plan on Tuesday, the town will send the plan to the state for its final approval.

The water shortage response plan has to be updated every five years and approved by the state.