Archive for Friday, July 27, 2012

Area treatment plants running at full steam to meet demand

July 27, 2012


Turning on the tap for a drink or a shower seems like a simple process. Providing the water isn’t.

And one of the driest, hottest summers on record has only made it harder.

During the last few weeks, the city of Lawrence has used 22 million to 23 million gallons of water a day. That’s about 10 million gallons more than its yearly average.

These are the highest levels Charlie Ballenger, plant manager for both the Kaw River and Clinton Lake water treatment plants, has seen in his 22 years with the city.

“Right now it’s just hustle and bustle,” he said.

To keep up with demand, both water treatment plants are running near or at full capacity. The increased amount of water requires more water testing, treatment chemicals and manpower. For water treatment crews, it’s like taking a normal day and pushing the fast forward button.

“There’s very little time to make a mistake,” Ballenger said.

And this is when everything must function properly, which worries Ballenger at times.

During other times of the year, sometimes even in the summer, treatment plants can be shut down for maintenance. With a thirsty city demanding that both plants run at full capacity, this is impossible. Ballenger said crews are doing as much preventive maintenance as possible, and the plants are holding up. But he keeps crews on call to help with maintenance and repairs just in case.

These crews have, so far, kept the water flowing, which means Lawrence should count itself fortunate.

Gov. Sam Brownback declared a state of drought emergency in Kansas on Wednesday, allowing cities running out of water to draw reserves from fishing lakes. Earlier in the week, the Arkansas River ran dry near Great Bend in central Kansas.

Farm ponds across the state also have dried up, pushing ranchers to sell cattle.

Lawrence sits much better than most cities, drawing water from Clinton Lake, which is only one foot lower than normal and the still-flowing Kansas River.

City Manager David Corliss said Lawrence had its investments in infrastructure and those at the water treatment plants to thank for that.

Still, he stressed the importance of saving water: “We always need to be wise water consumers in a period of drought.”

And any reduction in water demand would be a welcome relief for Ballenger and water treatment plant employees, who currently have little margin for error.

“You just have to be on top of your game,” Ballenger said.

Here are some water-saving tips provided by the city of Lawrence and other sources:

l Turn off sprinklers after it rains.

l Use water as infrequently as possible to water your lawn, watering five to seven days during cool morning hours.

l Use mulch on gardens to reduce water evaporation.

l Take shorter showers.

l Use rain barrels to capture gutter run-off, which can be used for watering.

l Turn off the faucet when brushing your teeth.

Lake siltation process slows


classclown 5 years, 11 months ago

“There’s very little time to make a mistake,” Ballenger said.


As opposed to when there is plenty of time to make a mistake?

Crazy_Larry 5 years, 11 months ago

WTF? The issue has nothing to do with lack of money. If you'd quit watering your damn lawn and live with brown grass then the demand on the treatment plant would ease up. Paint your grass green and stop using our drinking water!

parrothead8 5 years, 11 months ago

Lately, you're making even less sense than usual. Might be time to get back on your meds.

LadyJ 5 years, 11 months ago

Drove by a city property yesterday that had sprinklers going and water running down the street for a block into the sewer. Total waste of water. A bussiness on 23rd had sprinklers going to water a narrow strip of grass between the sidewalk and the street, another waste of water.

Jay Lovett 5 years, 11 months ago

Clown: Look up detention time. When a plant runs at capacity the water is there for less time, giving less time to treat the water to federal regulation standards. Thanks to the Utility folks working in the heat and at all hours to keep our city going, a thankless job, the posters here demonstrate.

LogicMan 5 years, 11 months ago

Pray for rain. Both the soaking and the flooding types.

Kontum1972 5 years, 11 months ago

well it seems that a number of professional business offices are watering their lawns at night, ban watering, drive around at night and u will see. Stop watering...

kernal 5 years, 11 months ago

It's better than those who water the grass along with sidewalks and streets in the middle of the day, but not by much.

The only valid reasons I can think of for watering is if the property is on a slope and the dead grass will eventially disappear and soil will wash onto sidewalks, into the streets and the sewer systems. Or maybe they are concerned about the soil separation from the sidewalks and curbs which will result in water getting underneath after a hard rain and causing buckling, cracking and breaking. Then you have a liability problem to those who walk on your sidewalk. If it's for aesthetic reasons, then they should rethink that.

JackMcKee 5 years, 11 months ago

Cue the nerdy hippies with no friends to start the competition on who uses the least water:

nerd hippie 1: I only water once a week, my lawn is brown nerd hippie 2: I don't flush my toilet nerd hippie 3: I pee on my garden nerd hippie 4: I don't have lawn, I raise weeds. It's all I eat. I have the bus come pick me up because I'm too weak to walk anywhere

Terry Sexton 5 years, 11 months ago

Hmmm...I have nerd friends & I have hippie friends. Not sure I have any nerdy hippie friends.

Randall Barnes 5 years, 11 months ago

city hall needs to shut off their sprinklers first and then i will follow.

Ronnie24 5 years, 10 months ago

Do you think that the city is using more water because they are watering city trees? That is what an article says I read before this one... Maybe its the city causing more water usage, and the city is just trying to blame the good people of Lawrence for the usage?

Commenting has been disabled for this item.