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Bloomington residents using 90% of daily city water capacity

Wed, 11 Jul 2012 13:29:43 CDT
By: Charlie Schlenker

The drought is causing Bloomington residents use water nearly as fast as the city can pump it.

"It certainly bears watching"

Water Department Director Craig Cummings says there is no problem with supply in Lakes Bloomington and Evergreen. There is still about a year's worth of water in the lakes, he says. Levels are down about four feet, but that's not much compared to the drought of 1988 when lake levels were down 40 feet. And after that drought, the city raised the retention dam, increasing capacity by nearly a third. Cummings says, though, Bloomington is pumping about 90% of its capacity of 20 million gallons per day.

"Our concern quite frankly now is our treatment capabilities and will we in fact be able to meet all the demands that the customers have if this continues for some period of time? We have to be careful that we are not taxing the treatment plant too much."

Cummings says water use is about 29% higher than in a usual year.

"The number one reason is irrigation. We are seeing a lot of sprinkling going on and of course we certainly know that swimming pools and particularly spray parks are very popular and they're being used a lot as well."

He says if the city begins to run out of pumping capacity, or if they cannot replace the 20 million gallons of in town reservoir space overnight, they might have to ask for water conservation measures.

"We would simply go to the public and say hey, could you perhaps water every other day? Nothing that would be mandatory. But we would just look for the public to partner with us. And we would probably look to do something with the spray parks, reduce some of the hours."

He says the department will present a drought ordinance to the city council soon to lay out what will happen if lake levels do eventually decline significantly. The Town of Normal is nowhere near its treatment cap. Director Steve Gerdes says because so many people connected to Illinois State University leave town for the summer, water usage does not rise as much as in Bloomington during hot weather. Normal is pumping at less than six million gallons per day out of its nine million gallon per day capacity.

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