County schools cur­tail wa­ter us­age

NCSS try­ing var­i­ous meth­ods to meet re­duc­tion man­date

The Covington News - - FRONT PAGE - By Jenny Thompson

The New­ton County School Sys­tem is try­ing to do its part to con­serve wa­ter.

Ge­or­gia Gov. Sonny Per­due man­dated ear­lier this month that coun­ties and cities re­duce their wa­ter us­age by 10 per­cent from this time last year.

Us­age will be as­sessed at the be­gin­ning of De­cem­ber and non­com­pli­ant mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties will be fined.

“Wa­ter con­ser­va­tion is an is­sue on ev­ery­one’s mind,” said Deb­o­rah Robert­son, NCSS as­so­ci­ate su­per­in­ten­dent for busi­ness and ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Robert­son said schools have al­ways re­ported wa­ter-re­lated prob­lems such as leaks and run­ning toi­lets, and re­pairs have then been made ex­pe­di­tiously.

Mea­sures the dis­trict is em­ploy­ing to re­duce its wa­ter us­age in­clude ad­just­ing all main line pres­sure reg­u­la­tors to the low­est op­er­a­tional set­ting to con­trol pres­sure and flow within the build­ings, turn­ing off all ath­letic sprin­klers and set­ting toi­lets to the low­est op­er­at­ing pres­sure and vol­ume per flush.

Wa­ter­less uri­nals are in all schools as well.

“A lot of busi­nesses have been try­ing to switch over to those too,” Robert­son said, “be­cause it does save a lot of wa­ter over a year.”

The main­te­nance de­part­ment is thor­oughly mon­i­tor­ing cool­ing tow­ers for over­flow and closed heat pump loops for leaks.

Per­haps the most dras­tic mea­sure is that school cafe­te­rias have dis­con­tin­ued the use of dish­wash­ers in the 11 schools us ing them.

“This will save ap­prox­i­mately 250 gal­lons of wa­ter per hour at each school,” Robert­son said.

Be­cause most schools op­er­ate the ma­chines ap­prox­i­mately 2.5 to 3.5 hours a day, Robert­son es­ti­mates the mea­sure will save the dis­trict be­tween 6,785 and 9,625 gal­lons ev­ery day.

NCSS Food and Nu­tri­tion Di­rec­tor Jan Loomans said foam trays and plas­tic flat­ware will be used in­stead of table­ware and uten­sils which need wash­ing.

“It will not af­fect the lunch process at all,” Loomans said.

Loomans said the de­part­ment had to weigh the en­vi­ron­men­tal ef­fects of us­ing more non-biodegrad­able ma­te­ri­als against the con­ser­va­tion is­sue, and con­ser­va­tion was deemed more press­ing.

In an ar­ti­cle pub­lished Sun­day, Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor of the New­ton County Wa­ter and Sewage Author­ity Mike Hop­kins told the News four of the largest users of wa­ter in the county are New­ton County pub­lic schools.

New­ton High School and Por­terdale El­e­men­tary School share one mas­ter me­ter be­tween them, as do Cle­ments Mid­dle School and Fairview El­e­men­tary School and Vet­er­ans Mid­dle School and West New­ton El­e­men­tary School.

Al­covy High School rounded out the list.

Hop­kins said the schools are not mis­us­ing wa­ter; they sim­ply have large stu­dent pop­u­la­tions.

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