Front Royal aims to conserve water

Town issues public notice asking residents to take part in voluntary effort

By Katie Demeria

Front Royal released a public notice Monday asking residents to take part in voluntary water conservation practices due to a reduction in the Shenandoah River’s flow rates.

According to Mike Kisner, superintendent of the town’s water treatment plant, the flow is monitored every day. Once it gets below a certain level, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality requires the town enter conservation measures, sometimes voluntary and sometimes mandatory.

The public notice states that “the 14-day rolling average stream flow rate of the South fork of the Shenandoah River has dropped below 400 cubic feet per second (cfs), or approximately 260 gallons per day.”

“It’s been dropping for a while, but as of midnight it reached to the point where we had to go into voluntary conservation,” Kisner said Monday.

Kisner attributed the drop in flow to a lack of rain.

Front Royal uses the south fork of the Shenandoah River. Charlie Weaver, chief operator of Woodstock’s water treatment plant, which uses the north fork, said that as of Monday the level looked fine.

Similarly, groundwater does not seem to be impacted. Kisner said as far as his staff is concerned, there has been no impact on well water.

Mike Ritchie, New Market town manager, said the town draws from groundwater rather than the river, and there has been no significant drop despite a lack of rain.

Front Royal’s water conservation suggestions are only voluntary. According to the notice, they include requests like watering exterior vegetation before 9 a.m. and after 4 p.m., and limiting washing vehicles to the same hours and only once a week.

Officials also asked residents to limit the operation of ornamental fountains or filling swimming pools, as well as shortening shower or bath time and turning off the faucet while brushing teeth and shaving, among other suggestions.

John Eckman, executive director of the Friends of the North Fork of the Shenandoah River, pointed out that the river is not solely dependent on rainwater.

“Groundwater is a pretty significant contributor to the river when the flow gets low, when the water is just seeping,” he said. “We’re not entirely dependent on rain.”

Contact staff writer Katie Demeria at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or kdemeria@nvdaily.com