The weekend's slight amount of rainfall did nothing to replenish the quickly-drying reservoir that supplies Oneida with water, and the town is now operating on its level two drought management plan.
"When you reach state two, it's a little bit more of a critical situation. It goes from voluntary (water conservation tactics) to some mandatory things," Mike Keeton, the water treatment plant manager, said on Friday.
Residents are no longer allowed to use pressure washers or water their lawns, and car washes can be limited to certain hours and days of operation, but that is a last resort.
"Those are the livelihood of those people. That's their business. That's how they make their living, so we don't want to say, 'you're closed, you're shut off,'" Keeton explained.
Howard H. Baker Lake in West Oneida is the main water source for the community, and the water level was just 27 inches above the lowest intake point on Nov. 14. Early on Nov. 21, it had dropped to 20.25 inches even though we received approximately two-tenths of an inch of rain between Friday night and Saturday morning. The lake has been dropping by seven or eight inches each week, Keeton said, but the Thanksgiving holiday could mean a sharper decrease when they check the lake levels again next week.
"Thanksgiving is usually a very high demand day and week," he said.
To help supplement the reservoir, Oneida has been purchasing about one million gallons of water from Huntsville each week, but that comes at the cost of $2,500 every seven says. To offset that cost, the price residents pay for water will increase with the December billing cycle, though the exact amount is not yet decided.
To read the rest of the story, pick up your copy of the Scott County News.Level not as low as 2007-08