July 5, 2012

Rural Water District Calling for Voluntary Reduction in Usage

The Scotland County Consolidated Public Water Supply District #1 is asking members to observe voluntary water conservation efforts.

Record high temperatures combined with the ongoing drought are making it extremely difficult for the Scotland County Consolidated Public Water Supply District #1 to keep up with the demand.

The rural water district announced on July 3rd a request to members for a voluntary reduction in water usage.

"We're simply having a tough time keeping up with the demand," said Bill Camp of CPWSD#1. "Right now this is voluntary, but it could become mandatory if things don't improve."

The water shortage is being driven by consumption of more than 400,000 gallons of water a day by the district's customers. That is well above the normal daily consumption rates of 250,000 gallons.

With water storage capacity of 200,000 gallons in the north tower and another 100,000 gallons in the south water tower, the district is finding it difficult to maintain any storage.

"We're pretty much pumping water 24 hours non-stop," Camp said.

That appears to be the norm across much of the region.

Rathbun Regional Water Association, which supplies the Scotland County rural water district, reports production of approximately 8.5 million gallons of water daily over the past week.

"We're not surprised at all with the high demand numbers taking into consideration the weather conditions," said RRWA CEO John Glenn. "We're not having any trouble keeping up with the heightened demand, but of course we are hoping for a little relief from the weather."

The production marks a significant increase from average numbers a decade ago, when the RRWA averaged 4.37 million gallons of water a day, with peak numbers in the 6 million gallon range.

Glenn noted that the association will be adding a new water treatment facility in 2013 that is expected to expand the capacity by 6 million gallons a day. According to the RRWA website, current plant capacity is 8.8 million gallons a day. However, Glenn noted that the association also purchases water for some of its estimated 60,000 consumers.

The added consumption has not had an adverse effects on water levels at Lake Rathbun. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reported lake elevation at 905.55' on July 3rd, which is above the lake's normal level of 904'.

"There were some gauge problems earlier in the year that have worked in our favor," Glenn said.

The CEO explained that the problems made it appear like the lake level was lower than it actually was during the spring, which kept as much water from being released into the rivers as normally would have been. That excess has allowed the lake to remain above it's normal level despite the current weather conditions.

Glenn indicated that average annual usage by the RRWA consumes six to eight inches of the lake's surface water annually.

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