A series of steady rain showers over the last few days has replenished Loudoun's water supply considerably, and county officials said they may decide by Monday whether to lift or ease mandatory water use restrictions in eastern Loudoun.
Storms that began with the holiday weekend and continued through Tuesday dumped 2.28 inches of rain in Leesburg, according to the National Weather Service. Although the soaking rain prompted fire officials to lift the county's ban on open burning, it will be a few days until it is clear whether there has been enough rain to refill streams and reservoirs.
"It's just too early to call yet," said Dale C. Hammes, general manager of the Loudoun County Sanitation Authority. "What we're doing is watching to see if this steady rain we had will have a long-term, substantive effect."
Hammes said that although many streams are swelling from the rain, he is waiting to see whether the water recedes--as it did after three inches of rain brought only temporary relief in late August. He said he expects to announce Monday his recommendation on whether restrictions should be lifted or relaxed.
Mandatory restrictions have been in place since Aug. 1 for the 30,000 households and businesses in eastern Loudoun served by the authority. Sheriff's deputies have issued 63 warnings but no citations, said Deputy Ed Pifer, a department spokesman.
Hammes said the storms raised the daily water flow in Goose Creek--a key source of drinking water for eastern Loudoun--from about 4 million gallons to more than 20 million gallons. But he cautioned that the creek jumped to 14 million gallons a day during the late August rains and just as quickly dropped back to 4 million gallons per day.
The water level at Beaverdam Reservoir has risen about three inches, as a result of the storms, Hammes said, but it is still only about 40 percent full.
In Middleburg--the only Loudoun town with mandatory water restrictions--officials said they will keep the limits in place even though conditions are improving. The town's two ground wells supply 410 households and businesses, according to Town Manager Alice Love.
Love said officials took a cautious approach and decided to continue restrictions in case the dry spell continues. "Last year we went off restrictions, and in December we were still short on rain," Love said.
Purcellville officials said they will continue to urge voluntary conservation. The town's reservoirs--which serve 1,200 households and businesses--both have risen more than a foot over the last few days.
"We're far better off than we were last year," Town Manager Robert Lohr said. "If we continue to see this rain, we'll probably lift [voluntary restrictions] in October."