Stage 1 Water Conservation Alert: May 2021

— Written By Tom Woods and last updated by
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Brunswick County has issued a Stage 1- water conservation alert. Please read the alert, it is included at the end of this message.

Below are some additional thoughts that will help you conserve water during this drought.

  • All warm season grasses, Bermuda, Centipede, St. Augustine and Zoysia, will need 1.0″ of water per week to not go dormant. This should be applied as 1/2inch 2 days/week. Applying 1/2 inch will wet the soil to a depth of 8 inches; there are no grass roots deeper than 8 inches so applying more than 1/2 inch is a waste.
  • You must calibrate your irrigation system to know how long to run the system to put 1/2 inch on the ground. Place several tuna fish or cat food cans on the ground in each zone, run the zone for 15 minutes, measure the water in the cans and do the math to define the time needed to get 1/2 inch of water on the ground.
  • Water your lawn between midnight and 4 a.m. Our humidity is high and the grass is covered with heavy dew all night long. You will run your system less time to get the 1/2 inch of water on the ground when the sun and wind are not causing 40% of what exits the spray head to evaporate; you will also save money! Do the system calibration at the same time you plan to run the system.
  • Use the following irrigation schedule to even out the demand for water:
    1. Odd address numbers: Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday
    2. Even address numbers: Wednesday/Friday/Sunday
    3. No irrigation on Mondays
  • If you are starting a new lawn with sod, keep the new sod damp until the roots begin to grow into the parent soil. This normally takes a week. You can test this by pulling on a corner of the new sod. It will come up easily until the new roots enter the old soil. You will then feel resistance. When that occurs, go to the 1 inch per week cycle.
  • If you are starting a new lawn from seed, wait until the Fall. Grass seed must be kept damp for 2 weeks to accommodate germination. If the seed dries out after germination begins, it will die. This requires too much water to attempt during a drought.
  • Landscape plants (hollies, loropetalum, crape myrtle, ligustrum, privet, junipers, camellias, azaleas, wax myrtle, elaeagnus, and many more) once established only need to be watered when they show signs of wilting. Shut the drip zones on these plants off. If they need water, the leaves will inform.

-Tom Woods

Brunswick County issues Stage 1 – Water Conservation Alert


Bolivia, NC – To ensure adequate water is available for essential needs, Brunswick County has declared a Stage 1 Water Conservation Alert effective immediately.

Water conservation alerts affect all customers of public water systems anywhere in Brunswick County.

Brunswick County asks the users of public water systems throughout the county to be diligent in using water wisely. Demand for water has exceeded 80% of the available production and distribution capacity. As Memorial Day approaches, water demands are expected to increase.

Brunswick County Public Utilities provides water service in unincorporated portions of Brunswick County as well as the following communities: Boiling Spring Lakes, Bolivia, Calabash, Carolina Shores, Caswell Beach, Navassa, Northwest, Sandy Creek, St. James, Sunset Beach, and Varnamtown.

Customers of other utilities such as Bald Head Island, Brunswick Regional – H2GO (Belville), Holden Beach, Leland, Oak Island, Ocean Isle Beach, Shallotte, and Southport are under the same restrictions since these utilities receive their water from Brunswick County Public Utilities.

Under a Stage 1 Water Alert, water system customers are requested to make voluntary adjustments to their water usage habits to appreciably reduce peak demands. (A peak demand of under 80% of system production and distribution capacity is targeted).

Irrigation demands represent the bulk of non-essential water use, so a primary way that customers can reduce water usage is to limit irrigation. A unified application of voluntary water reductions by all water system users in Brunswick County can help to avoid mandatory water restrictions.

Specific ways to reduce water usage are as follows:

  1. Use the following recommended irrigation schedule to even out system demands:
    1. Odd address numbers: Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday
    2. Even address numbers: Wednesday/Friday/Sunday
    3. No irrigation on Mondays
  2. Defer all non-essential water use (lawn irrigation) to outside the peak demand hours of 5 a.m. to 11 a.m., preferably after nightfall.
  3. Do not overwater your yard. One inch of water per week in the summer will keep most types of grass healthy. To determine how long you need to run your sprinkler to provide 1-inch of water, place straight edged cans at different distances from your sprinkler and time how long it takes to fill an average of 1-inch of water in each can. Water occasionally but deeply to encourage deeper rooting that makes grass more drought/heat tolerant.
  4. Install rain shut-off devices on automatic sprinkler systems.
  5. Do not water pavement and impervious surfaces.
  6. Limit lawn watering to that necessary for plant survival. Water lawns outside of the peak demand hours of 5 a.m. to 11 a.m.; preferably after nightfall.
  7. Water shrubbery the minimum required. Water shrubbery outside of the peak demand hours of 5 a.m. to 11 a.m. Use drip irrigation systems in shrubbery beds and around trees to prevent water loss through evaporation.
  8. Use abundant mulch around trees and shrubs to retain moisture.
  9. Plant drought-tolerant grasses, trees, and plants.
  10. Adjust mower height to a higher setting to retain moisture.
  11. Limit the use of clothes washers and dishwashers and when used, operate fully loaded. Operate dishwashers outside of the peak demand hours of 5 a.m. to 11 a.m., preferably after nightfall.
  12. Limit vehicle washing to a minimum. Use commercial car washes that recycle water.
  13. Use shower for bathing rather than bathtub and limit shower to no more than five minutes.
  14. Inspect and repair all faulty and defective parts of faucets and toilets. Pay attention to dripping sounds.
  15. Do not leave faucets running while shaving, brushing teeth, rinsing, or preparing food.
  16. Do not wash down outside areas such as sidewalks, driveways, patios, etc.
  17. Install water-saving showerheads and other water conservation devices.
  18. Install water-saving devices in toilets such as early closing flappers.
  19. Limit hours of water-cooled air conditioners.
  20. Keep drinking water in a container in the refrigerator instead of running water from a faucet until it is cool.
  21. Fill or top off swimming pools only from dusk until dawn.
  22. Cover pool and spas when not in use to prevent evaporation.
  23. Use disposable and biodegradable dishes where possible.

Note that this Stage 1 Water Conservation Alert does not affect the use of private groundwater wells or those using highly treated reclaimed wastewater. (St. James, Winding River, Sea Trail, and Sandpiper Bay golf courses use reclaimed water. Other golf courses use wells and ponds for irrigation.)

This is not a water quality advisory, only a water conservation alert. There is no need to boil water for potable use unless you receive a low-pressure advisory notice for your specific area due to other conditions in the water distribution system.

Residents will be notified if any other conservation measures are needed and when conditions dictate that restrictions are no longer required.

Residents who have questions should contact their water service provider directly or Brunswick County Public Utilities at 910.253.2657 or

Information and any updates can be found at Brunswick County Public Utilities’ Site.