It's dry but water levels no cause for concern


It's been hot and dry but water officials aren't worried about the lack of rain yet. Water levels have dropped, but not anything like last year. So far this summer, levels have dropped almost 8 inches. Last year around this time, they dropped around 45 inches.

 "Compared to last year our lake is about 3 feet higher," said Water Production Operations Supervisor Don Giger with the South Water Treatment Plant.


That's good news for now.

"When we get to 611 [feet above sea level] we'll really be watching it close," he explained.

So there's no concern unless water levels are still dropping into November.

Last year around this time if customers wanted to get their car washed, they probably couldn't because water restrictions shut the businesses down, but at Billingsley EZ Wash in South Shores extra steps had to be taken to keep business open.

"We ended up trucking our own water in... Posed a lot of challenges as far as economically and logistically," said business owner Jay Billingsley.


The extra cost of transporting water soaked up profits.

"It was pretty detrimental," he said.

But today business depends on newly installed equipment that uses about 20 percent less water on each car.

"I think that we learned a lot of lessons last year," Billingsley said.

A new plan is being discussed among Giger and water treatment officials on how to handle future drought situations.

"We always think we're doing the right thing but sometimes after you make the decision, maybe we could have done it better," Giger said.

Future restrictions will depend on how late and how low water levels drop.

New water restriction plans should be finalized in the next few months. In addition to that plan, the water treatment plant is also looking at how to use additional water sources like dredging. Those supplemental water sources are part of the water rate hikes.

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