As part of Gainesville's drought response resolution, the public utilities department held an information sharing meeting with its 50 largest customers Friday. In the meeting, some industry leaders shared some of their water conservation measures.
SKF USA in Flowery Branch is saving the condensation from its air-conditioning units in the summer and reusing it. A company representative who attended the meeting said the measure had resulted in "significant water savings."
Koch Foods in Gainesville is reusing the rinse water from its ice machines in the factory cooling towers.
Some of those attending the meeting had questions about the effects of the drought on their businesses. One question was whether there would be additional water rate increases as the drought moves forward.
To offset the need for rate increases, Gainesville Public Utilities Director Kelly Randall said he is trying to add more customers by selling water to municipalities like Jefferson and Dahlonega that are in worse water situations. However, the city is working with the state to increase its water withdrawal permit from 15.82 million gallons per day for that purpose.
"We are a business, too," Randall said. "We're going to have to look at it really hard."
Randall said the intention of the meeting was to open the lines of communication between the utilities department and local industries. "We're all in this together," Randall said. "We're all facing a new situation."
Randall stressed the importance of the industry leaders assisting in water conservation, because water supply is critical. "The last thing I want to do is call somebody up and say ‘I don't know how you're going to do it, but you're going to have to cut your water use by such and such number,'" Randall said. "I'm trying to avoid that."
Scarlett Fuller, Gainesville's water conservation specialist, asked those at the meeting to talk to their employees and co-workers about water conservation. Fuller said conservation would become more common if the people at the meeting shared what they knew about conservation with their hundreds of employees.
"I can't reach the whole city of Gainesville," Fuller said. "Just think how much water we could save if everybody saved just a couple of gallons."