Water suddenly in short supply in many Twin Cities communities.

greenspun.com : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Water suddenly in short supply

Mike Kaszuba Star Tribune Tuesday, July 10, 2001

Just weeks after flooding fears receded, water is suddenly in short supply in many Twin Cities communities.

In Prior Lake, City Manager Frank Boyles was called late Sunday after the city's special alarm sounded, indicating that water levels in storage facilities were dropping quickly.

Boyles said the alarm sounded at about 9 p.m. "It's kind of odd to have that happen at that time of night," he said of the hour when water usage is usually at an ebb.

Farmington officials also scrambled Sunday night to implement a lawn-sprinkling ban after water levels in reservoir tanks dropped unexpectedly. In Eden Prairie, citizens were reminded Monday that there is a watering ban between noon and 5 p.m. daily.

And in Ramsey, city residents used more water Sunday than it had on any day in the past year.

Nine days this year, temperatures have reached 90 degrees or above in the Twin Cities, according to the National Weather Service. By comparison, last year had six 90-or-above days, five of them by early July.

The area averages about 15 days of 90-degree weather a year.

Robin Roland, Farmington's interim city administrator, speculated that many residents returned from the July 4th holiday to find their lawns turning brown and began heavy sprinkling. "We don't have the water pressure necessary for our firefighters to fight fires," she said.

In Eden Prairie, officials issued a statement blaming the water problems on "a combination of high temperatures, lack of rainfall and residents returning from holiday vacations ... that stressed the city's water supply." And in Waconia, officials have started to restrict lawn watering.

The watering bans are not limited to the metro area.

Avon has started to curtail lawn watering. Also limiting water use are Rockville, St. Joseph, Sauk Rapids and Sartell. The cities use the odd-even system -- meaning odd-numbered addresses can water on odd-numbered days and even addresses on even days.

Waite Park, near St. Cloud, has banned all lawn watering until further notice.

In Prior Lake, Boyles said, the water shortage comes just two months after the city enforced a no-wake policy for boaters on Prior Lake because of high water. The city, which already bans lawn sprinkling from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, also has an odd-even system.

A week ago, Oakdale officials said they imposed a sudden watering ban that lasted two days. The city, thinking that the wet weather in the spring would preclude a water shortage, had shut down two of its seven wells for maintenance, said Brian Bachmeier, Oakdale's public works director.

"We didn't have our system fully operational," he said. "Then, all of a sudden, the weather changed." The city is now on an odd-even schedule.

Mark Boos, Ramsey's park and utilities superintendent, said the "dramatic increase" in water usage late Sunday surprised officials. "We're watching it extremely closely," he said. The city already has an odd-even regulation and a complete watering ban from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. during the summer.

A high of 86 degrees is expected today. Wednesday and Thursday should cool off a bit more with highs near 80, but temperatures are expected to rise again Friday and into the weekend with lower to mid-80s.

Some moisture is in sight: There's a chance of showers and thunderstorms Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

-- The Associated Press and staff writer Kavita Kumar contributed to this report.-- Mike Kaszuba is at mkaszuba@startribune.com .


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), July 10, 2001

Moderation questions? read the FAQ