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SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan — Plans to ration the city’s water supply and curb service to about 100,000 residents were put on hold indefinitely Monday, Sasebo city and U.S. Navy officials said.

Rationing probably won’t be necessary because holiday precipitation edged up the city’s reservoirs, which were nearly half depleted by a fall dry spell.

The Navy said Monday it will forgo rationing on base until Sasebo city government decides municipal rationing is necessary.

The city water department said water levels will be reassessed in February, but the current supply appears adequate for Sasebo’s needs.

“We are going to essentially mirror what the city is doing,” said Lt. Cmdr. David Kang, public works officer at Sasebo Naval Base. “If they don’t have water rationing, we won’t have rationing.”

To conserve water, the city considered cutting service to about half the city’s residences for 28-hour periods beginning Dec. 15, and the Navy agreed to follow suit Dec. 17.

Sasebo decided last month to put off the rationing until after the holidays.

Water levels in city reservoirs were at about 59 percent by Monday, an increase from a low mark of 53 percent in December.

The city typically considers rationing when supplies in the six municipal reservoirs fall below 55 percent.

On Friday, Sasebo City officials decided to again postpone water rationing planned after New Year’s Day, a senior official at the city Waterworks Bureau said.

“We had 60 millimeters [2.36 INCHES]of rainfall on Dec. 21 and between Dec. 27 and Jan. 1, a total of 20 millimeters [0.78 INCHES]of rain, which helped to improve the water situation,” said Sachio Ogawa, chief of the bureau’s Water Resource Management Office.

City officials breathed a sigh of relief at the increase but the water situation is still severe, he said.

“We need continuing cooperation from citizens in conserving water,” Ogawa said.

The city will convene a drought management meeting early February to decide if rationing is necessary to start.

“It is mid-March when we can expect substantial rainfall every year. We are hoping that we can somehow hold out until then,” Ogawa said.

The Navy, the city’s single largest water consumer, has been pushing water conservation on Sasebo Naval Base since October and the effort has paid off, according to figures released by the public works department.

Monthly water use on base has decreased 43 percent through a variety of changes including reduced water pressure in base buildings, a public conservation campaign, fewer car washes and water-saving showerheads, Kang said.

“We have had really good participation in this endeavor,” he said.


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