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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

As annual water regulations begin, local groundwater supply taken into consideration

James City Service Authority customers will have to keep an eye on their outdoor water use as annual regulations begin through September. (WYDaily/Courtesy Wikimedia Commons)
James City Service Authority customers will have to keep an eye on their outdoor water use as annual regulations begin through September. (WYDaily/Courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

As the days get longer and hotter, more residents in James City County will be participating in outdoor watering, but without regulation those activities could be detrimental to local water supply.

“We are limited in our [water] capacity, so it is a concern,” said Doug Powell, James City Service Authority general manager. “It’s not an immediate concern but certainly in the future we want to look in a reduction in groundwater withdrawal.”

For the approximately 22,000 residents in the county using the James City Service Authority water supply, all of the water comes from groundwater aquifers, while those who are serviced through the Newport News Service Authority uses surface water.

Powell said the city maintains a permit with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality to withdraw the ground water but when the permit expires in 2027, the department will be looking for ways to reduce ground water withdrawal.

Powell said the concern comes from groundwater being depleted faster than it is being restored.

Scott Kudlas, director of the office of water supply for the department of environmental quality, said that has been a problem occurring over the past 50 years. After the end of World War II, the use of ground water increased substantially and as a result the region has seen over pumping increase as well, he said.

In 2010, the department started an analysis that showed there would have to be a reduction in withdrawals in order to achieve long term sustainability for the confined aquifers. Following that analysis, he said at the end of 2017, the department negotiated reduced permits with the largest users of groundwater.

Kudlas added James City County has prepared for that possibility and is considering a number of cost-effective options for the future in order to ensure customers do not see any break in service.

In the meantime, the county has continued with its annual water regulation program which began in 2002, according to a news release from the county.

The program runs from May 1 to Sept. 30 in order to moderate water usage during a time period when residents might be watering outside.

“Even with this program in place, our water demand goes way up in the summertime,” Powell said. “So I think that I can say with confidence that the demand would go up even more if it weren’t in place.”

While the program does not restrict water usage entirely, it does create certain parameters about when and through what means water can be procured.

Under the county’s regulations, residents using JCSA can use water outdoors for any purpose at any time, so long as it is with a container or a hose with an automatic shutoff nozzle. Other irrigation systems, such as sprinklers, must follow the outdoor water use schedule.

The outdoor water use schedule regulates customers with odd-numbered addresses to use water outdoors between midnight and 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. and midnight on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays.

For customers with even-numbered addresses, outdoor water can be used during those same times but on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. each day and all day on Mondays, water use is not permitted.

Powell said to monitor that, there aren’t individuals assigned to keep watch but rather county staff keep an eye out when driving around the county. If customers are found to be in violation, typically they are given a warning. Powell said that rarely happens, however, and in his five years with the JCSA, he has never need it go past the warning stage.

To learn more about outdoor water regulations, visit James City County online.

Alexa Doiron
Alexa Doiron
Alexa Doiron is a multimedia reporter for WYDaily. She graduated from Roanoke College and is currently working on a master’s degree in English at Virginia Commonwealth University. Alexa was born and raised in Williamsburg and enjoys writing stories about local flair. She began her career in journalism at the Warhill High School newspaper and, eight years later, still loves it. After working as a news editor in Blacksburg, Va., Alexa missed Williamsburg and decided to come back home. In her free time, she enjoys reading Jane Austen and playing with her puppy, Poe. Alexa can be reached at

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