Why we have water restrictions
The short answer is that if we do not restrict water usage we will run out of water for household use. The long answer is that we are limited in our water usage by two factors: One is a physical factor and the second is a regulatory license factor.
Physically, we can only pump so much water out of the ground.
Nominally, each well can produce a flow of approximately 50 gallons per minute (gpm). With 8 wells in operation we can draw 400 gpm out of the ground. With 800 homes on the system that averages to be ½ gallon of water per house per minute. Comparing this flow to water usage in a house, an energy saving low flow shower head uses ~2 gpm. Time of use is important since little water is used overnight compared to the morning rush and evening cleanup. To aid in water system capacity, water storage tanks are used to provide surge capacity for heavier demand periods. At two pumping stations, the water is stored in tanks to provide an additional 110,000 gallons of water. Thus, one way to gauge the operating condition of the system is to monitor the recovery of water in the storage tanks. If we are not able to restore the water levels overnight, then we are using water faster than we can physically draw it out of the ground.
A second factor is the limits of our water use permits as issued by the State of Maryland. We have water withdrawal permits for a total of 179,200 gallon per day combined from two aquifers. With 800 homes that is a limit of 224 gallons of water per household per day. Using the average of 2 ½ persons per home, that is a little less than 90 gallons per person per day. In newer homes or homes that have been upgraded, the water flow devices use much less flow than older homes. In an older home a non low flow shower head may use as much as 5 gpm. In a 10 minute shower, approximately 50 gallons of water is used. Add in sink usage, cooking, cleaning, and clothes washing, and 90 gallons is used up very quickly.
Note above that we have not even discussed using water for outdoor uses such as watering plants and yards; washing cars, decks, houses. In the drought situation we are having, if we are using water outside it can quickly deplete our storage water and challenge our ability to restore those tank levels. If the tanks levels drop too low the booster pumps will trip off and we initially have reduced flow into the system and ultimately loss of the system.
Flow from lawn sprinkling can be in the range of 5-10 gallons a minute. Considering the well pumpage capability of 400 gpm, if there are 40 homes out of the 800 homes with one lawn sprinkler operating we exceed the system's ability to pump water out of the ground.
During this drought condition, we must restrict water usage to ensure we have water for household use. We all like green lawns, but if you are watering your lawn you may deprive you neighbors of the water they need for household use.
The Rules of Beaches Water Co-op ¶ 27 (3) provide for Interruption of Service when the member is willfully wasting water. Watering one's lawn during a drought, when water restrictions have been posted, may be considered a "willful waste of water." Please... be considerate, be responsible.