Archive for Friday, December 9, 2011

Drought watch impacts Lawrence, Clinton Lake

In this 2010 file photo, Jeff Riner, a water plant operator at the Clinton Water Treatment Plant, stands by one of the plant's treatment tanks.

In this 2010 file photo, Jeff Riner, a water plant operator at the Clinton Water Treatment Plant, stands by one of the plant's treatment tanks.

December 9, 2011


Consider it saving for a non-rainy day.

State water regulators have put Lawrence and all other entities that pull drinking water out of Clinton Lake on notice that the Douglas County reservoir is on the verge of drought conditions.

The Kansas Water Office has issued a “drought watch” for entities that use Clinton Lake that will require the city to take some modest steps to save water. The water office has been monitoring the falling conservation pool at Clinton Lake, which is about 20 percent below its levels from May.

City officials said the “drought watch” is not a sign that the city will be facing any water shortages in the near term.

“I think it really is just a statement by the state that we shouldn’t stick our heads in the sand and ignore what might happen in the future,” said Dave Wagner, director of the city’s utilities department.

The state has issued various levels of drought watches, warnings or emergencies for counties and reservoirs across the state, especially as drought conditions have worsened in the southern and western parts of Kansas

The drought watch for Clinton Lake technically requires the city to put in place several conservation measures that are part of the city’s adopted Water Conservation Plan. But Wagner said because the watch comes during the winter — when water usage typically is lower anyway — he doesn’t think the measures will be burdensome. The measures include:

• Rapid repair of leaks in the city’s water system to reduce lost water.

• Curtailing city activities such as washing of city vehicles, hydrant flushing, decorative fountain use and other nonessential uses.

• Contact large water users such as the Parks and Recreation Department, area golf courses, Kansas University and Haskell Indian Nations University to ask for voluntary reductions in water usage. But Wagner said because those organization aren’t doing any large scale irrigation during the winter, those groups won’t be asked to cut back significantly.

“Other than just general awareness, I don’t think there is much for us to ask our large water users to do at this point,” Wagner said.

But conservation measures could become more burdensome if droughtlike conditions continue over the winter and into the spring and summer. If the county and Clinton Lake are put into a “drought warning,” the city’s plan calls for more stringent conservation methods. Those can include:

• Impose an odd/even lawn watering system for all customers in the city. Residents with odd-numbered addresses could water on certain designated days, while residents with even-numbered addresses could water on other designated days.

• Restrict outdoor water use — including lawn watering and car washing — to before 10 a.m. and after 9 p.m.

l Restrict golf course watering to tees and greens and require all such watering to occur after sunset.

• Consider excess water charges if customers use a certain amount over and above their normal winter usage.

Wagner said the city hasn’t had to implement such conservation measures in recent memory. But he said it was hard to know how serious the current dry conditions would become.

“I think that is a big reason why the governor wants us to be cautious now with our water usage because none of us are very good at predicting the weather five or six months out,” Wagner said.

Lawrence, however, is in a better position than most other communities because it gets its water from two major sources: Clinton Lake and the Kansas River.

But during the past year, the city’s Kaw Treatment Plant has experienced problems with its main water intake. The plant’s output was significantly reduced for several days earlier in the year because the plant was having difficulty capturing enough water to operate efficiently.

The city currently is in the process of interviewing engineering firms to look at ways to repair or replace the intake. Wagner said a replacement would be a multimillion dollar project, and he said construction likely would not begin until 2013.


puddleglum 6 years, 6 months ago

dude, there is like all kindsa yummy drinking water in the kansas river. just git water from there an stuff, yo.

Paul R Getto 6 years, 6 months ago

How we handle all these challenges in the coming decades could be critical. There is not enough cheap, easy to clean water in this part of Kansas to meet all the current and future needs. If we keep it cheap, allow waste (private swimming pools and golf courses, for example) and don't invest in new technologies, we will see another crisis that 'no one saw coming.' We can live without oil and can adapt. Water is a different need and we should attend to the problem now instead of waiting for a crisis and a water war like we will soon see in California.

Getaroom 6 years, 6 months ago

This news just in from The Strawman Report:

The "Get Government Out Of My Water" movement" has won the battle against The Evil Liberal EPA, which has at last been stripped of it's long held strangle hold on public protection powers!

Rejoice, ye of little hope! Pump, drill and suck that H20 right outa' there dudes - chemicals and all - swill them down. There is plenty for all in the Tea Party who are taking their American water back, "well", until there isn't any more, but who cares about that silly business.

But never fear, as Miracles tend to do, through the power of politically driven prayer all will be as it should and the answer to our water woes prayers sits with "The Miracle Worker", also known as, The Rev. Gov. Brownbackward! He is going cure the parched god given lands by ending the drought and fixing the Ogallala Aquifer and giving more decision making power on water use to --- AgriBusiness. That should fix it all up real fine - praise BB and as the wait staff at your favorite restaurant often says, - "no worries - no problem" would you like water with your meal?

It's_ just_math you know - no big deal! And besides, everyone understands that Obama caused this drought anyway and once he is out = problem solved.

Oh! and don't forget, always boil your drinking water before use. The Surgeon General warns: Tea Party Democracy can be dangerous to your health. Use with caution. If ingested, or contact with skin and eyes, Flush with copious amounts of polluted water.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 6 months ago

"allow waste (private swimming pools and golf courses, for example) " and yards.

Notice City Hall does not talk much of 'Water Conservation".Yet during the summer months a lot of waste is the order of the day. And the city is waiting till winter???

Lawrence area has closed out the year within the "Drought Range" for several years. That is moisture lost and rarely recovered especially when considering closing out the year below normal several years consecutively. Or simply several years with the same decade.

The time to honestly talk water conservation is during the summer months most definitely. That is the time city hall makes the most money/"rakes in the most tax dollars" from water usage.

Perhaps it is time to think of reducing the size of lawns by way of converting lawn space to mulched vegetable/herb garden space and/or mulched Kansas perennial flowering gardens or mix them = wonderful beauty. The bees would appreciate it.

Lawns require a great deal of resources. Most lawns won't die but will brown out until rain comes. No matter one can over seed annually in late summer -early fall and wait for the rain.

Another technique I learned of from an an old landscaping book goes like this. As spring nears yet still more snow is on the horizon. THINK spread grass seed on top of snow. As the snow melts the seed is taken to the soil and a very wet surface. More snow or rain will follow with the seed in place to germinate as the temps begin to warm.

Reducing the size of lawn is a fiscal conservative and socially responsible approach.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 6 months ago

If only Lawrence had grown a little faster. If we had a population of 150,000 right now, this wouldn't be a problem, right?

Richard Heckler 6 years, 6 months ago

The water is quite smelly.

"If only Lawrence had grown a little faster. If we had a population of 150,000 right now, this wouldn't be a problem, right?"

Excellent point...

Or perhaps we would be forced to use synthetic water.

JustNoticed 6 years, 6 months ago

Bush. It's Bush's fault. He is the devil.

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