DECATUR – The City of Decatur is requesting that all water customers voluntarily reduce the amount of public water they use until further notice due to the continuing drought. The Lake Decatur watershed, and much of the state of Illinois, have experienced above average temperatures and below average precipitation since July of last year.
Lake Decatur, the primary source of water for the City of Decatur and the Village of Mt. Zion, is 1.75 feet below the summer high lake level and is declining at a rate of over 0.5 inches per day. The lake is still 78% full; however, since the ground is very dry it will take significant rainfall to increase the level of the lake.
Mandatory water conservation measures may need to be implemented if the lake level declines another 9 inches. At that time the lake would be 69% full.
The City will soon begin using supplemental water from an ex-sand and gravel pit that it owns near the Lake Decatur dam. This source is not large enough to compensate for current customer demand and the City will have to use the DeWitt County Wellfield if demand does not decrease, which is expensive to operate. These high costs are ultimately passed onto all water customers.
The City employs a Low Lake Level/Drought Action Plan to deal with drought impacts. Per the Plan, the current lake level calls for the City to make a public request for voluntary water conservation. If customers are able to reduce their water use then Lake Decatur may not drop to a more critical level.
This request for voluntary water conservation applies to all Decatur water customers including the Village of Mt Zion. The City's twenty largest customers will also be directly contacted for their assistance. Residential customers may be able to take advantage of these conservation tips:
- Repair leaking faucets, toilets and water pipes.
- Install water efficient toilets and shower heads.
- Operate washing machines and dishwashers only when full.
- Do not take baths. Instead, take short showers.
- Do not let water run while shaving or brushing teeth.
- Water lawns and outdoor plants in the late evening or early morning only if absolutely necessary.
- Postpone installing new outdoor plants until the drought is over.
- More ideas are available at: www.wateruseitwisely.com and www.epa.gov/watersense
Lake Decatur boaters are advised to be aware of shallow water obstructions. They are also advised to be aware of shallow water impacts on docks, hoists and boat ramps.