Drought straining water supplies across Tennessee

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - The ongoing drought and weeks of extreme heat have drawn down water supplies and cities across the state are asking their residents to conserve.

Some cities are issuing pleas to limit watering the grass, washing cars and filling swimming pools, while others have restricted the times when residents can use water outdoors.

Officials in Franklin and Portland are serious about the water restrictions they've imposed. Crews in Franklin, a Nashville suburb, shut off service to five homeowners this week for violating the restrictions placed on the city's 17,000 water customers.

"I think that some people aren't taking it seriously. It's the old adage that 'it's OK if I do it,"' Franklin City Administrator Jay Johnson said. "When (thousands of) people do it, it does matter."

If Franklin's water situation worsens, the next steps the city may take would include banning restaurants from serving water unless patrons ask for it specifically. It also would reduce how much water could be used at car washes and laundries.

Franklin homeowners who get caught - and get their water cut off - must pay a $25 reconnection fee, sign a statement saying they will follow the water regulations in the future and get approval from the city's aldermen to get service restored.

City officials in Portland, about 30 miles north of Nashville, said they may start imposing hefty fines if water customers don't start complying with restrictions.

In Selmer, 80 miles east of Memphis, residents are facing a drop in water pressure because of the strain on their system.

"One area was using a lot more water than we could pump to the tank," Selmer Utilities Superintendent Benny Moore said.

In nearby Adamsville, the utility company has pipes bursting because of shifting dry ground. Compared to last year, the Adamsville utility, which serves 3,500 customers, has been pumping 200,000 to 300,000 more gallons of water per day - about half the volume of an Olympic-sized swimming pool.

Maryville, 15 miles south of Knoxville, is buying water from Blount County's water utility as its water supply is flowing at historic lows. City officials said they had only seen a "very slight" decrease in water consumption after urging residents to voluntarily conserve.

At the Fort Campbell Army post along the Kentucky-Tennessee border, officials said basic water needs are being met, but residents are being asked to do without nonessential uses like washing cars, filling pools or watering lawns.

Officials say the water shortage is not affecting training for the 101st Airborne Division.       Tennessee may see slight relief this weekend with a very small chance of thunderstorms across most of the state. Nashville on Thursday recorded its 14th day of 100 degrees or above this month, the most recorded in any month for the city.

By Thursday afternoon, Nashville had reached 102 degrees, Chattanooga had reached 104 degrees, Knoxville was at 101 and the Tri-Cities had hit 97 - all record-breaking temperatures. Memphis had tied the day's record of 100 degrees.

The hot weather has been cited in 13 deaths in Shelby County and one in Wilson County.       Problems with the heat sent four Memphis-area high school football players to the hospital Wednesday. The Southwind High School students received IV fluids after practicing outside in the late afternoon.

"My body, it was going slow," said 16-year-old Daniel Spann. "I didn't have enough fluid. I thought I was going to get sick. I had to vomit."

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)