Minden Press-Herald

Thursday
Oct 02nd

Water wells stressed

Dry weather and high temperatures are affecting a lot more than vegetation this summer.

Water wells and pumps providing water to local citizens are suffering, as well.

Michael Fluhr, water superintendent for the City of Minden is expressing concern, not only over the amount of water being used, but the stress on the equipment required to get it to businesses and residences.

"At this time, the system is very, very stressed," Fluhr said. "It's not that we are short of water. But all the use at certain times, is stressing out the system."

Fluhr said that on any given day, from around 5 until 9 a.m., seven to eight water wells are pumping 4,000 gallons of water per minute out of the ground.

Recently, he said, when he was making repairs at the water plant around 4 a.m., residents were running sprinklers.

"It was on a day when they are not supposed to be running them," he said. "But this is not an ordinance. You can't tell them not to water. It's hot and dry, and they don't want to lose their lawns. I can understand that."

Unfortunately, that stress to the system may cause the city to temporarily ration water, if the system has to be shut down for repairs.

At 4 a.m., the day Fluhr was making repairs, the plant was completely nonfunctioning for 45 minutes and water tanks lost 16 percent of stored water.

"That's a tremendous amount of water, especially at the Germantown Water tank where you only have 250,000 gallons," he said. "You go down fast. That's why we had to do it (repairs) at 4 a.m."

Fluhr said at the moment residents and businessowners are using about 4.5 million gallons per day.

So far, that's 210 million gallons more than was used this time last year.

"At this rate, if you would pump 24 hours straight, you would use 7 million gallons of water," he said.

Fluhr said that while most people were willing to cut down on usage at the beginning of the summer, many have begun to ignore the city's requests.

"When we first asked people to follow a schedule, everybody seemed to do so," Fluhr said. "The last time we asked, it did no good. If our system goes down, we will have to take more drastic measures."

Fluhr said periods of peak demand usually occur between 6 and 10:30 a.m. and 7:30 and 10 p.m.

"In the morning, everyone takes a shower at the same time," Fluhr said. "Sprinklers are going and washing machines."

Any significant increase in demand during these periods, such as a major fire or a ruptured water main, could possibly result in a loss of system pressure – or worse.

Fluhr has been with the city plant since 2004. He said that during this time, he has not seen a true water shortage in Minden.

"Minden is fortunate with our ground water," said Fluhr. "People should understand how valuable our water is. To produce it would be much more expensive if it was surface water – like Shreveport or Bossier where they have to get their water out of the Red River. It's also much more difficult to produce."

Getting Minden's water from the ground to the drinking stage is intricate, he said, but not time-consuming.

It begins with the water-rich Sparta Aquifer, which Fluhr describes as a natural sponge in the ground that is fed by rain.

But when you've been weeks without rain, one little shower won't replenish it.

"It's like watering a stone," Fluhr said. "It takes a long time and a lot of rain for the water to go through the ground until it reaches 300 to 450 feet under the surface. That's where the aquifer is."

The water is transferred from the aquifer site to the city wells, where it is pumped to the water facility at the plant. There it is processed to drinking water grade and then pumped to Minden's two water towers – downtown and on Germantown Road – and to the Murray Drive pump station off Country Club Circle.

"The whole process doesn't take long," Fluhr said. "It comes quickly to the water tank. The treated water – from the moment it comes out of the ground to storage is about one hour."

There is one way a good rainfall will help, he said, and that's when it's aided by consumer conservation.

"It will not recharge the aquifer, but a few days will help in reducing water usage," Fluhr said. "People will not use as much on their lawns. If you have rain, you don't use the sprinkler."

"We are hoping the citizens of Minden will continue to cooperate with this voluntary watering schedule, and we encourage the residents to help us in our efforts to conserve water," said Minden Mayor Bill Robertson. "Let us assure you, our constant goal is to provide residents with a safe, dependable and sufficient supply of drinking water."

 

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