A drought warning declared by the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority in August will continue, despite heavy rainfall that occurred last week.

“The streams in our water supply watershed did respond positively to the rainfall,” said RWSA Executive Director Tom Frederick in a statement.  “But as of Monday morning, they are already diminishing rapidly back toward levels that are below normal for this time of year.”

The South Fork Rivanna Reservoir filled up after the rains, and the RWSA reported it as being full as of midnight.  The Totier Creek Reservoir, which serves Scottsville, is also full. However, the Sugar Hollow reservoir is more than 12 feet below its full level.  Frederick said that means it is storing half of its total capacity of 316 million gallons.

“We need a couple of more rain events like what we experienced last week to complete the recovery of this drought,” he continued. “The 4 inches of rain last week is a big help, but still leaves us with a significant rainfall deficit of about 11 inches.”

The RWSA is concerned that Sugar Hollow may not refill over the winter. Computer modeling being used by the RWSA has led Frederick and his staff to recommend that the drought warning not be lifted until Sugar Hollow is at no more than six feet below capacity.

Frederick urged area residents to continue to conserve water.  The drought contingency plan in place is counting on users of public water to keep consumption to less than 10 million gallons per day.

No significant rain is in the forecast for the next week, but meteorologists are watching Hurricane Noel, which is currently on a course towards the Bahamas.

Sean Tubbs

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