Pine Water Company imposed Stage 5 restrictions over the Memorial Day weekend when water storage levels plunged to 40 percent of capacity.
While storage levels had increased to 62 percent by Thursday afternoon, Pine remains at Stage 5. The company confirmed that it began hauling extra water to Pine over the weekend.
"We have to maintain (storage levels) above (Stage) 5 for 48 consecutive hours," Pine Water Company spokesperson Myndi Brogdon said, "so tomorrow (Friday) we should go back to (Stage) 4 or (Stage) 3."
The pattern in Pine was typical for a three-day summer weekend.
"The tradition is that we get hit hard on the weekends and ... the pumps can't keep up with demand," Brogdon said. "Then once everybody goes home we can catch up. Those three-day weekends really hurt us."
Brogdon said several Pine residents called her to report water wasting, especially by weekend neighbors.
"If folks want to file a complaint they can do so on our toll-free number," she said. That number is (877) 287-1795.
Of particular concern is the fact that the storage capacity of 40 percent registered Tuesday, May 27, which translates to 339,000 gallons of water in storage tanks, was less than the same date a year earlier when 390,000 gallons of water were in storage.
Two years ago, Pine Water Company had 740,000 gallons of water in storage on May 27.
Stage 5 water conservation restrictions include a mandatory reduction in water use with no outdoor watering allowed except permitted livestock. Restaurant patrons should be served water only on request.
Violation of Stage 5 restrictions may result in disconnection of water service and Stage 5 violation fines for reconnection. The fine for reconnection after a first offense is $750, $1,500 for a second offense, and $3,000 for subsequent offenses.
For current information on water conservation restrictions in Pine, call (877) 287-1795 or check one of the staging signs located on Hardscrabble Mesa Road, Pine Creek Canyon Road, Bradshaw Road, Old County Road, Whispering Pines Road (for northbound Highway 87 traffic) and Valley View Road (for southbound Highway 87 traffic).
Water outage in Strawberry
Up Highway 87 two miles, Strawberry also experienced some difficulties over the weekend, although Strawberry Water Company, also owned by California-based Brooke Utilities, does not have a system of conservation guidelines and restrictions.
"There were a few folks in Strawberry who did without water for an hour or two -- it wasn't a long period of time," Brogdon said. "The response I heard was, ‘We knew the weekenders were up; we knew why it happened.' It is estimated that Strawberry customers used more than 325 gallons per day per customer, and we know that's not our regulars."
Brogdon theorizes that the increase in consumption was caused by weekenders who dumped water on their pine trees to stave off bark beetle infestations.
"I can understand that," she said. "The problem is, if you run us out of water, then everybody is going to lose everything. If folks come up and continue to use and abuse water in that way, Strawberry will find itself in the same situation as Pine."