Archive for Thursday, September 20, 2012

Water district reports record summer usage

September 20, 2012

Consolidated Water District No. 1 reported record water usage this summer because of the drought.

The previous record of 48,027,100 gallons in 2006 was broken this summer by more than 8.5 million gallons, bringing the total to 56,531,000. Paula Johnson, administration manager for the district, said the majority of that water increase was for residential use watering lawns and gardens.

But as the drought wore on and ponds dried up, several farmers borrowed fire hydrant meters from the district to fill trucks and haul water for their cattle, Johnson said.

Chuck Magaha, Leavenworth County director of emergency management, said ponds in the area have on average dropped 4 to 5 feet, and many livestock farmers are selling their animals because they don’t have the water to sustain them.

If one thing’s for sure, Magaha said, it’s that Kansas isn’t in the clear yet.

“We’re far from being out of the drought,” he said. “It’s nowhere near over.”

Water District No. 1 hasn’t had to impose water restrictions yet, and as far as Johnson knows, no districts in the area have had to enact mandatory restrictions, she said. Last year, the addition of a 1 million gallon elevated storage tank was completed, and without it water restrictions may have been a possibility, according to a news release.

While the district was able to maintain good pressures and flows despite the increased demand, there was a slight increase in the number of water main breaks.

Magaha said there was also an increase in grass fires this summer, and the county didn’t issue any burn permits between July 7 and Sept. 12 out of concern that fires would become uncontrollable.

The recent rains have helped to green up pastures, Magaha said, but the effects of the drought will be felt for a long time. Overall, Leavenworth County has fared better than areas farther away from the Kansas City metro area, he said. Where we have access to large sources of water from the Kansas and Missouri rivers, areas 70 to 80 miles away are digging wells 3,500 to 4,000 feet deep in search of water, he said.

Although there isn’t a need for water restrictions yet, residents should be cognizant of their water use, Magaha said.

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