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


Ronnie24 1 year, 8 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?


mikekt 1 year, 8 months ago

By the way, if the Lawrence Water Department isn't making extra money to pay their extra operating bills & do future repairs with later, then there is something way wrong in their rate base & they aren't charging enough, realistically, for our current excessive water demand.

Thank God,..... the people who built them / operate them ......& your lucky stars, that we have Tuttle Creek, Milford & Perry Flood Control Reservoirs upstream, on the Kansas River & the Clinton Flood Control Reservoir to our south west of Lawrence.

These feed our water treatment plants & they are the water source "FLYWHEELS" of our community, preventing floods by storing water for slower later releases during excessively rainy times & holding stored waters, for use in times such as these, of major drought.


mikekt 1 year, 8 months ago

Well, it is unfortunate ( right? ) that people are actually paying the Lawrence Water Department for this water, so that they might be able to make some extra money this sumer !? Hello !?

It's probably that Putin guy from Commieville ! ....There Out To Get Us........along with the fact that lots of water runs / flows down hill past Lawrence, in the Ks. River daily..........or the fact that Clinton Lake evaporates tons of water daily, on it's own,......both of which are uncontrollable by the City of Lawrence Ks., as far as i can tell .

Chemicals, electricity & labor are usually costed into the rate bases... & paid for by consumers.

Gosh,.......maybe if something does break, with all of this extra income, they will be able to fix it out of their general incomes, instead of ???

Or be able to rework ( LOWER ) their Clinton Lake intake or drill major wells to the Ks. River Valley Water Table Underground, as an emergency resource, if this turns into a 30's style drought, with the extra cash that they are now making ????

If something does break, they can behave like adults and issue water restrictions on watering lawns & other uses ! Ditto if there becomes an electricity or chemical shortage !

If these plants are operating at their designed engineering & purification limits, then maybe the City needs to rethink their time table, for either expanding either plant, in the future..... or of helping neighboring districts that want to, to become independent with their own separate resources of water ( from ours ).......shedding some obvious consumer load, so that Lawrence doesn't have to meet their current or future demands for water, down to the south of us, saving us (?) the extra cost of expansions of our plants .

That is a thought, i think ?!

In northern California during a drought in 77, i saw people taking half a bath tub full, for baths & putting the bath water on their plants with buckets, when finished . Shower water is also catchable in a tub for plants .

Are we really there yet...... or are we tilting at windmills ?!

Would again like to hear the plan, for what we do when we really get there.... & it becomes a fire protection issue, as in having adequate reserves or capacity, to reasonably ( as in PSI & Volume Available - Residual Pressure ) fight a fire!!!

Why, because inquiring minds want to know !!!


Randall Barnes 1 year, 8 months ago

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


JackMcKee 1 year, 8 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


Kontum1972 1 year, 8 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...


LogicMan 1 year, 8 months ago

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


jaybird79 1 year, 8 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.


LadyJ 1 year, 8 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.


FalseHopeNoChange 1 year, 8 months ago

"10 million gallons more than its yearly average." "These are the highest levels seen in his 22 years with the city." “Right now it’s just hustle and bustle,”

From Falsey's perspective, The 'only' way to solve this frantic pace is for government people to raise money. Money is the answer to compensate "hustle and bustle". Rates for 'clear', clean, fresh water must go up.

Save the people in government with more of your hard earned money!


classclown 1 year, 8 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?


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