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Rain eases drought effect on Bloomington water supply

Thu, 31 Jan 2013 14:05:55 CST
By: Rachel Darling / Charlie Schlenker

Recent rains have added about 300 million gallons of water to the City of Bloomington reservoirs. The Water Department says the two inches of precipitation bring the water supply nearly back to pre-drought levels. Water Director Craig Cummings says both lakes gained about a foot. After rapid runoff, Cummings says Evergreen Lake is now full and Lake Bloomington remains down more than two feet.

"And we do expect it to get nearly full, if not completely full over the next three to five days."

Cummings says the drought last year and the one in 1988 appear to be very similar. He says there is less than an inch of difference in precipitation between the two.

"We are, as a surface water supply relying on reservoirs, much more vulnerable than deep groundwater supplies."

But, he says the city fared better in 2012 because it increased the reservoir capacity by a third after the 1988 dry spell. He says there is another factor at work as well.

"In 2012 we had a few more tools available to us to mitigate the seve drought. The biggest one being the Mackinaw River Pumping Pool where we pumped almost three quarters of a billion gallons from the Mackinaw River."

Cummings says supplemental pumping has ended. State regulations allow pumping of river water deemed excess only in limited circumstances.

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