Ashland's water treatment plant has seen a doubling in demand with the onset of warmer weather this week.

"We were running at about 2.5 million gallons a day and we went to 5 million in 24 hours," said Water Treatment Plant Supervisor Daryl McVey.

He said the jump in use came on Wednesday morning when more people began watering their lawns.

The National Weather Service is predicting a spike in afternoon temperatures to 90 degrees today, followed by an increase to 95 degrees Friday afternoon.

Temperatures are expected to nudge back down to highs of 90 degrees on Saturday and then 87 degrees on Sunday. The weather is expected to moderate early next week, with a high of 82 degrees predicted for Monday and a high of 70 forecast for Tuesday.

City of Ashland Water Conservation Analyst Robbin Pearce advised people to use caution when watering their lawns and landscaping.

"Go slow. Don't crank up the irrigation right off the bat," she said.

Residents should start with small amounts of water and then increase watering only as needed as the season progresses. Homeowners should check to see if their automatic sprinkler systems are still set for high use from last summer, Pearce said.

She said residents should also keep an eye on the weather and not water heavily when temperatures are moderate, as they are expected to be early next week.

The city's Conservation Division offers these tips for lowering water use:

To reduce water use outside

— Water landscaping early in the morning or evening to avoid rapid evaporation.

— Adjust sprinklers to water plants only, not the pavement.

— Mulch around plant material to reduce evaporation.

— Watch for run-off. Soil can only absorb so much moisture.

— Learn what types of grass, shrubbery and plants do best in your area and plant accordingly. Plant the right plant in the right place.

To reduce water use inside

— Install an aerator on faucets to reduce the amount of water used by adding air to the water flow. The city of Ashland gives away free shower aerators.

— Replace washers in faucets to eliminate drips. A dripping tap can waste eight bathtubs of water in one month.

— Install a low-flow showerhead to reduce water use. They have the same pressure as regular shower heads.

— Run only full loads in your dishwasher and clothes washer. Wash in warm or cold water, not hot. The city offers rebates and the state offers tax credits for qualifying efficient washers.

— Add a displacement device to the toilet tank to reduce the amount of water in the tank. This tip saves as much as a half gallon per flush.

— Replace old toilets with low flow toilets to reduce and reduce the amount of water use by — to — gallons per flush. The city offers rebates on low-flow toilets.

— Be aware of the amount of water you use and look for ways to use less whenever you can.

For more information on water conservation and rebates, visit /Page.asp?NavID=1366 or call Pearce at 552-2062.

Staff writer can be reached at 479-8199 or vlaldous@yahoo.com.