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One month later, has ban helped?
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The city of Gainesville reduced its water use for the month of October, thanks mainly to the level four drought restrictions which included a total outdoor watering ban.

But how does this reduction measure up to previous Octobers?

Last month, the first month of the level four drought restrictions, the city cut water use by 9 percent.

The average daily water consumption for Gainesville was 17.94 million gallons last month, with the city pumping nearly 22.5 million gallons on the heaviest-use day, Oct. 11.

This year’s October average is 1.66 million gallons per day less than what was used in October 2006, according to public utilities department data.

Water use in the city steadily declined during the month, hitting a low of 14.46 million gallons on Oct. 28, a Sunday. Public utilities officials have said that water use is lowest on weekends.

Kelly Randall, director of Gainesville’s public utilities department, attributed the reduction to Gainesville residents’ response to restrictions.

"Our citizens have really responded well," Randall said. "Everybody has heard the message; people are conserving."

This year’s reduction follows a 2 percent decrease in October daily average water use from October 2005 to October 2006.

However, October water use rose from 2004 to 2005.

The average daily consumption for the city in October 2004 was 18.08 million gallons per day, with a maximum of 21.73 million gallons used on Oct. 5.

That daily average rose 10 percent in October 2005 to an average of 19.97 million gallons per day.

While the water usage has gone down over the past month, it will have to be reduced even more. Now that Gov. Sonny Perdue has mandated a further reduction in water use, Gainesville officials say the city must reduce water use to 15.82 million gallons per day.

That number is based on Gainesville’s water use from December 2006 to March 2007.

At the Nov. 6 City Council meeting, Randall told the council that he plans to speak with the state to make sure that number is correct. But until then, the city must strive to reduce its average daily water use by 12 percent over last month’s use, he said.

Randall said the further reductions will have to come from conservation inside both homes and businesses.

"That’s where we really need to be looking at now," Randall said.

The City Council resolved to implement Randall’s recommendations for further water use reductions at the Nov. 6 meeting, which included advising area schools to "go paper," meeting with the city’s 50 largest water customers to encourage them to reduce water use, washing city vehicles only in emergencies and restricting water for future applicants for new annexations and developments.

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