APPALACHIA, Va. (WJHL) — Beginning Tuesday, the Town of Appalachia will restrict water usage to its about 1,200 residents on the water system due to an ongoing shortage.

This restricts each user to 4,000 gallons of water each month, with a surcharge if a household goes above it.

“I’ve been watching the weather patterns for months now,” said Town Manager Fred Luntsford. “And it seems as though when the rain starts coming our way, it splits and goes north and south. It’s put Southwest Virginia, in particular Wise County, in the middle of a drought situation.”

Business owner of Classic Car Care Inc. Lemuel Wells is worried about how this shortage could affect the town.

“You know something’s going to start happening if it doesn’t start raining,” said Wells. “It’s just a matter of time. [The town’s] going to start rationing the water. The river’s way down.”

Normally, the town gets water from the Ben’s Branch River, but Luntsford said it has dried up. Now, the town is pulling from two water sources. Water is being pumped from the Powell River up the mountain to the reservoir. Appalachia also has an interconnect with the neighboring town of Big Stone Gap.

“I predicted three or four months ago that Appalachia, if the weather patterns wouldn’t change, Appalachia would be the first to feel the pinch and we certainly are,” said Luntsford.

Luntsford said the last big drought was in 1962. The town’s reservoir (above) measured below the average for this time of year. (Photo: WJHL).

Monday, the reservoir water level measured at 10 feet below where it averages this time of year, a whole foot more since three weeks ago when Luntsford last visited. He said he’s been warning the townspeople for months on the future issue, asking people to voluntarily start conserving water.

“Our readings of usage and consumption indicate that we have not had the cooperation that we would’ve liked to have had,” said Luntsford. “So, I guess I could say that we’ve brought some of this on ourselves.”

Luntsford said this water shortage period will continue until the next good rain comes, which could be within the next two months. Town employees will be going around on Tuesday to check water meters. The consequences of not conserving water will worsen as the water level continues to drop, he said.

The list of those restrictions can be found here.