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Avalon Taking Steps to Avert Water Consumption Problem

Avalon Taking Steps to Avert Water Consumption Problem

By Vince Conti

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AVALON – Business Administrator Scott Wahl has gotten the Borough Council’s support for an education campaign this year to better inform property owners and visitors about the need to conserve water and about the borough’s irrigation rules.

Wahl, in speaking to the council at its Wednesday, Jan. 24, meeting about an emerging problem of increased water use, said the borough also needs to adjust its own use of irrigation, especially for its sports complexes.

The administrator in his presentation noted that water consumption in a 10-year period had risen from 65.7% of the annual state water allocation – the amount of water the borough is allowed to extract through its wells – to 87.2%.

Avalon has five wells. Wahl said the borough’s goal is to utilize four of the wells, with the fifth as backup should an active well need to be taken out of service. In 2023, however, the borough ran all five wells at full capacity 24 hours a day, seven days a week during peak times, he said. That left the borough short of what is called firm capacity, the ability to meet peak demand should a well go down.

Wahl said the borough had conducted an experiment that found that the major culprit in excess water use was irrigation systems that work automatically, especially in the early morning hours. He added that the borough itself is culpable in the overuse of irrigation.

The administrator said that the borough established a set of rules for irrigation as far back as 2012, but admitted those rules have not been well-enforced. Under the 2012 system the borough was split into two zones, each to water every other day, with Monday a day with no irrigation. The zones split at 30th Street going north and south.

Wahl told the council that it would be a “heavy lift” to get the state to raise the annual allocation of water. He added that it would be a very expensive proposition to create a new well for capacity backup or to build a new water tower.

He said the borough would hold a meeting with the major landscaping companies that serve Avalon, reminding them of the irrigation rules. He also promised a printed flyer that could be used to educate visitors.

Among the tasks at hand, Wahl pointed specifically at the need to get the borough’s own house in order. He said a test on the sports complex at 8th Street showed that the grass did just as well with every-other-day watering as it did with daily irrigation.

“We cannot ask the public to do something we are not ourselves willing to do,” he said.

Gaining voluntary compliance with the ordinance that has been on the books for 12 years is an approach to the problem that avoids sudden heavy-handed enforcement, he said.

Wahl said he felt confident that an information campaign that emphasized the need to conserve, along with shining a new light on the existing regulations, would be the best way to avoid continuing pressure on the allocation level. At the end of the year, the borough can reassess how well the approach worked, he said.

Contact the author, Vince Conti, at vconti@cmcherald.com.

Reporter

Vince Conti is a reporter for the Cape May County Herald.

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