At city’s request, Navy to ask that Sasebo reduce water use
November 7, 2007
SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan — The U.S. Navy agreed Monday to reduce its water use here, as Sasebo city faces rationing of its depleted reservoirs.
The director of the city’s water utility approached the Navy base, the city’s largest water consumer, and asked for participation in a citywide conservation effort.
All residents are being asked to use less water while washing cars, showering and during other daily tasks.
If consumption does not slow, Sasebo’s water supply could drop to a critical level by mid-November, meaning reduced water pressure or suspended water service, the city waterworks bureau said.
“We are going to implement some water conservation measures on the base,” said Lt. Cmdr. David Kang, head of the Navy base’s public works department. A complete conservation plan was not ready for release Monday afternoon, he said.
The base will check its water system for leaks and issue a public request this week that residents and personnel cut back on water use, Kang said.
Water-saving tips will include fewer car washes and turning off faucets while brushing teeth, he said.
About 2.8 percent of all city water goes to the Navy, and its conservation efforts have been effective in the past, said Sachio Ogawa, chief of the city waterworks bureau’s Water Resource Measurement Office.
The director of the Sasebo Waterworks Bureau, Keiichi Yoshimura, visited the Navy base to ask for cooperation, but the city has not set any quotas for military water use, Ogawa said.
“We did not make a request by indicating specific figures, but we know that the military will offer full cooperation by actively participating [in] the campaign, as they did last time,” he said.
In 2005, there was a water shortage, and the military cut about 20 percent of its water consumption during a conservation campaign, he said.
The city as a whole cut about 10 percent of its water use, Ogawa said.
Residents should avoid washing vehicles with a hose, instead using water in a bucket, and should not run the shower while washing with soap, Ogawa said.
The conservation effort is a first step to protect the water supply. If it is ineffective, the city could reduce water pressure to areas of the city, he said.
Eventually, water service could be suspended during certain hours of the day, Ogawa said.
Nature is unlikely to help replenish the water anytime soon.
Despite cloudy skies and sprinkles Monday, the city’s six reservoirs were at 65 percent capacity and dropping at an average of 0.6 percent per day, Ogawa said.
“A critical line is when the level reaches 55 percent,” he said.
That could occur within about 17 days if current weather and consumption trends hold.
For the week, no substantial rainfall was expected except for Tuesday, when 1.9 inches was predicted, a weather forecaster at the Nagasaki Marine Observatory said.
Meanwhile, rainfall for the coming month is expected to be about 3.2 inches, which is average precipitation for November, according to the observatory.
The city has proposed flooding a valley southeast of Sasebo city and using the reservoir to bolster its water supply.
However, the project has been blocked by residents who would lose their homes and land.