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SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan — The U.S. Navy is taking bolder steps to cut its water use as a drought forces Sasebo city to reduce water pressure to many neighborhoods Friday.

The city’s reservoirs dropped below 60 percent of capacity by Tuesday despite a voluntary water conservation campaign started earlier this month.

Water pressure will be reduced Friday in about 100,000 homes — more than one-third of the city’s population — and could affect servicemembers and civilians who live off base, according to Navy and city officials.

Meanwhile, the Navy plans to reduce water pressure at some on-base facilities beginning Nov. 30 and could restrict water use in the future, said Lt. Cmdr. David Kang, the base’s public works officer.

The base already has curbed its car washes, delayed testing of fire hydrants and installed water-saving shower heads at the Fleet Gym.

“Everyone at CFAS — servicemembers, families, civil service, and MLC — needs to be actively involved in implementing conservation measures to get us through the drought,” Kang wrote in an email to Stars and Stripes.

MLC refers to Japanese base workers.

The government vehicle wash rack was shut down indefinitely last week, and the Navy Exchange car wash will be closed Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, according to public works.

The Navy also is working to deploy water purification systems to the base that could help with the conservation effort, Kang said.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Travis Bundy said he always is conscious of water use and hasn’t changed his habits.

“I don’t really use a whole lot of water because I grew up in Europe, and they are very conscious of that (water use),” said Bundy, who lives off base.

Water will continue to flow in the city but will not gush as strongly from faucets, said Sadayoshi Emoto, the city’s water resource measurement official.

“Many would probably not realize the difference,” Emoto said.

The changes will occur in the former unincorporated Sasebo city area and the Kosaza area.

How much water is saved by pressure reduction will depend on use by residents, he said.

If use does not drop off, the city could take more drastic measures to conserve its water supply.

The supply in six reservoirs dropped to 58.4 percent of capacity by Tuesday, and water service will be suspended during certain hours of the day if levels dip below 50 percent, Emoto said.

Officials believe if the situation continues, the supply will drop below 50 percent sometime on Dec. 15, he said.

Rain is predicted next week in Sasebo but not enough to replenish the depleted reservoirs, the city said.

The last time the city suspended water service due to drought was in 1994 and 1995, Emoto said.

Conservation tips

Here are a few ways to help conserve water:

Stop washing your vehicle or use a bucket instead of a hose.Don’t water grass when it’s windy.Run washing machines and dishwashers only when they’re full.Fix any water leaks.Take showers in less than 5 minutes.Don’t run water while brushing your teeth or shaving.Don’t fill the tub to the top when bathing.Don’t use the toilet as a trash can.Use a broom, not water, to clean sidewalks and driveways.Capture cold tap water while waiting for water to turn hot. Use the captured tap water for plants or a garden.Don’t run water while washing dishes in the sink.Use the garbage disposal less.Conservation planThis is the Navy’s water conservation plan. Phase 1 begins Nov. 30, and the second phase could be instituted if city water supplies continue to drop:

Dining and food facilities (phase I — no impact, phase II — 50 percent pressure reduction)Gym facilities (phase I — pressure reduction, phase II — water hours for shower facilities)Housing areas (pressure reduction only)School and CDC (pressure reduction only)Laundromat (restricted operational hours to be announced)Public toilets (pressure reduction only)Dog kennels (no change)Administrative facilities (phase I — pressure reduction, phase II — water hours)Source: U.S. Navy

author picture
Hana Kusumoto is a reporter/translator who has been covering local authorities in Japan since 2002. She was born in Nagoya, Japan, and lived in Australia and Illinois growing up. She holds a journalism degree from Boston University and previously worked for the Christian Science Monitor’s Tokyo bureau.

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