On April 9, 2008, the Birmingham Water Works Board adopted a revised Drought Management Plan, which offers more flexibility to our customers and addresses concerns raised during the 2007 drought. We believe that this plan is indicative of our commitment to our customers and our community.
Click on the following attachments to download the BWWB’s revised Drought Management Plan in its entirety or the Drought Management Plan Summary.
Drought Management Plan.pdf
Drought Management Plan Summary.pdf
Stage One – Drought Advisory
The Drought Advisory Stage will be implemented when dry weather conditions are predicted or likely. Public notices and press releases about the dry weather situation will be increased. The purpose of this phase will be to advise customers (including municipal governments) of the potential for dry weather conditions and request voluntary conservation measures. The public will be given notice that the Birmingham Water Works Drought Management Plan has been initiated. Voluntary conservation measures recommended by the Birmingham Water Works are listed below.
Outdoor Watering Tips
- Reduce the watering of lawns, shrubs, trees and landscaped areas. As a general rule, established lawns do not need to be watered more often than every five to seven days. A hearty rain eliminates the need for watering for up to two weeks. Buy a rain gauge and use it to determine how much water/rain your yard has received.
- Water lawns during the early morning hours when temperatures and wind speeds are the lowest. This reduces water losses from evaporation.
- Don’t allow sprinklers to water your street, driveway or sidewalk. Position them so water lands on the lawn and shrubs…not the paved areas.
- Install the most water efficient irrigation devices for each use. Drip and micro-irrigation and soaker hoses are examples of water efficient irrigation methods.
- During dry weather, raise the height of your mower so that you are cutting your grass at the highest recommended height. A higher cut encourages grass roots to grow deeper, shades the root system and holds soil moisture better than a closely clipped lawn.
- Avoid over fertilizing your lawn. Fertilizer applications increase the need for water. Apply fertilizers, which contain slow-release, water-insoluble forms of nitrogen.
- Use mulch to retain moisture in the soil. Mulch also helps control weeds that compete with landscape plants for water.
- Consider planting drought-tolerant grasses, ground covers, shrubs and trees. Once established, they do not need to be watered as frequently and usually will survive a dry period without watering. Group plants together based on similar water needs. Talk with the County Extension Service or your local nursery.
- Do not hose down your driveway or sidewalk. Use a broom or blower to clean leaves and other debris from these areas.
- Use a shut-off nozzle on your hose so that water flows only as needed. When finished, turn it off at the faucet instead of at the nozzle to avoid leaks. Check hose connectors to ensure plastic or rubber washers are in place. Washers prevent leaks.
- Do not leave sprinklers or hoses unattended. A garden hose can pour out several hundred gallons or more of water in only a few hours.
- If you wash your own car, park on the grass and use a hose with an automatic shut-off nozzle.
Indoor Watering Tips
- Verify that your home is leak-free. Many homes have hidden water leaks. To check your home for leaks: Make sure no one in your home is using water and check to make sure the dial on the face of the water meter is not moving. If the flow indicator on the water meter is turning, you have a leak.
- Replace worn out flappers. There are three ways to determine if you need to replace the flapper: (1) Add a dye tablet or dark food coloring to the toilet tank and wait 15 minutes. Do not flush. If the water in your toilet bowl changes colors, replace the flapper; or (2) Shut off water to the toilet tank and flush. Once the tank is empty, touch the flapper. If a rubbery residue from the flapper comes off on your hand, replace the flapper; or (3) Once the toilet is full, turn the supply valve off and wait one hour. If the water level in the toilet tank drops, replace your flapper. Check the toilet for worn out, corroded or bent parts. Most replacement parts are inexpensive, readily available and easily installed.
- If the toilet handle frequently sticks in the flush position letting water run constantly, replace or adjust it.
- Install a toilet dam or water displacement device such as a bag or bottle to reduce the amount of water needed for each flush. Be sure the installation does not interfere with the operating parts in the tank.
- Take shorter showers or alternatively take a shower by turning the water on to get wet; turning off to lather up; then turning back on to rinse off. Repeat when washing your hair.
- Operate automatic dishwashers and clothes washers only when they are fully loaded. Set the water level for the size of load you are using.
- When washing dishes by hand, fill one sink or basin with soapy water. Quickly rinse under a slow-moving stream from the faucet.
- Store drinking water in the refrigerator. Don’t let the tap run while you are waiting for cool water to flow.
- Do not use running water to thaw meat or other frozen foods. Defrost food overnight in the refrigerator or use the defrost feature on your microwave.
- Don’t let water run while shaving or washing your face. Brush your teeth first while waiting for water to get hot, then wash or shave after filling the basin.
- Avoid flushing the toilet unnecessarily. Dispose of tissues, insects and other similar wastes in the trash rather than the toilet.
- Refrain from using water for ornamental purposes including fountains, artificial waterfalls and reflecting pools.
Stage Two – Drought Watch
The Drought Watch Stage will be implemented when dry weather conditions persist or worsen and the voluntary conservation measures requested in Stage 1 have not reduced water demand or usage to sufficient levels in order to sustain the reliability of Birmingham’s water resources. The Birmingham Water Works will recommend additional and more restrictive voluntary conservation measures. Recommended conservation measures are listed below.
The following voluntary measures recommended:
1. Outdoor Watering for Established Lawns and Landscaping
- Addresses ending in an even number should water established lawns and landscaping on Mondays and Thursdays.
- Addresses ending in an odd number should water established lawns and landscaping on Tuesdays and Fridays.
- No watering between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. on each allowable watering day.
- No watering is to be conducted on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays.
- Commercial accounts receiving multiple bills with different addresses should follow the even-day watering schedule and water only on Mondays and Thursdays.
- Unnumbered addresses should follow the odd-day watering schedule and water only on Tuesdays and Fridays.
2. Outdoor Watering for New Lawns and Landscaping
- New lawns and landscaping are exempt from the day of the week restrictions for the first 30 days after installation; however, such watering shall be limited to the minimum necessary, and no watering between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. on each allowable watering day.
- After 30 days, outdoor watering should be in accordance with the schedule for established lawns and landscaping (As discussed in Number 1).
- Documentation to verify the date of planting shall be made available upon request.
3. Insecticides, Fungicides and Herbicides
- Irrigation for the purpose of watering in insecticides, fungicides and herbicides where such watering is required by the manufacturer or by federal, state or local law shall not be restricted by days of the week; however, such watering shall be limited to the minimum necessary, and no watering is to be conducted between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.
4. Vehicle Washing
- The washing of personal automobiles, trucks, trailers, mobile homes, campers, boats, or other type motor vehicle or equipment shall be permitted by means of a sponge and bucket and a hose with a shut-off nozzle.
5. Golf Courses – Guidelines only apply to golf courses that use BWW water for irrigation purposes.
- Golf courses should water the front nine holes Mondays and Thursdays.
- The back nine holes should be watered on Tuesdays and Fridays.
- All 18 holes may be watered between 10 p.m. Saturday and 6 a.m. Sunday.
- Greens and tee boxes can be watered daily as needed.
6. Swimming Pools and Jacuzzis
- Newly constructed or existing public and private swimming pools, which include outdoor hot tubs, spas and Jacuzzis, may be filled once upon completion.
- A one-time draining and subsequent refilling of swimming pools is allowed only for repairs if conditions threaten the integrity of the pool and/or its supporting infrastructure.
7. Other Water Uses
- Hosing down of porches, sidewalks, driveways and other hard surfaces, except for health and safety reasons, should be suspended unless performed by a commercial pressure washer business.
- Restaurants requested to serve water only at the request of their customers.
- Hotels and motels requested to ask customers to reuse towels and sheets when possible.
8. ExemptionsThe following commercial outdoor water users are exempt from day of the week watering restrictions. However, all groups should restrict water use to the minimum amount necessary.
- Sod producers.
- Ornamental growers.
- Fruit and vegetable growers.
- Retail garden centers/Commercial nurseries.
- Construction sites.
- Producers of food and fiber.
- Commercial car washes.
- Watering-in of pesticides and herbicides on turf.