OUC: Normal water usage can resume after COVID-19 hospitalizations caused conservation efforts

The Orlando Utilities Commission (OUC) has announced that they are returning to normal water operations after asking residents to reduce their usage during a surge of COVID-19 hospitalizations earlier this year.

In August 2021, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and OUC asked residents to stop watering their lawns and washing their cars for at least a week. This was needed because of a recent surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations, they said.

OUC treats the city's water with liquid oxygen and supplies that ordinarily go toward water treatment have been diverted to hospitals for patients suffering from the virus. 

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"It’s another result what happens when residents don’t get vaccinated and become critically ill and are in need of dire medical support and treatment," Mayor Dyer said at the time.

However, OUC announced on Tuesday, October 12, that "thanks to customers answering the call for help by reducing water demand due to a temporary shortage of liquid oxygen," the utility company is returning to normal water operations. Residents can resume normal water use, such as irrigating lawns and washing cars but should remain mindful of conservation practices.

During this time, OUC said that residential and commercial customers cut back use by as much as 16 percent when water usage hit a low of 76 million gallons per day. However, overall during these seven weeks, the daily system average was reduced by just under 10 percent.

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"We sincerely thank our customers for their understanding. When the most recent COVID-19 wave hit our community in August, we wanted liquid oxygen supplies to go to hospitals to treat patients," said Clint Bullock, OUC General Manager and CEO. "Also, as the hometown utility, we wanted to ensure the clean, reliable water service our customers expect. With our community’s help in reducing the demand on our system, we were able to get through this difficult time together."

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