Town Begins Voluntary Watering Restrictions

In a special June 27 meeting requested by Mayor Bruce Vierheller, Town of Lake City Board of Trustees approved the implementation of voluntary Stage I watering restrictions.
The restrictions do not apply to drip systems nor to the use of hand-watering containers. There is to be no irrigating on Mondays, or between the hours of 9 a.m. and 6 p.m., or when winds exceed 15 miles per hour, in order to minimize evaporation.
Odd-numbered addresses may irrigate on odd- numbered calendar days, and even-numbered addresses may irrigate on even-numbered calendar
All trustees (Dave Roberts, Jeff Heaton, Richard Moore, Jud Hollingsworth, Marty Priest and Alan Rae) were present at the June 27 special meeting, along with Mayor Vierheller, Town Manager Caroline Mitchell, and Town Clerk Jamie Turrentine.
Vierheller stressed in the meeting that currently, everything is normal and operational with the town’s well, aquifer and water operating systems and that the restrictions are merely a precautionary measure.
“The next two to three weeks are the busiest of the year in Lake City,” he said, “which will obviously place a great demand on the town’s well and aquifer.”
Public Works Director Greg Levine presented his findings to the board, explaining that because we have a groundwater system rather than surface water storage, the data that he collects is the only way to monitor the situation.
“It’s no secret that we are experiencing an extreme drought, possibly long-term.” Levine said, “If we had an above-ground system, it would be much easier to ascertain where we stand, but since we are unable to actually look at the water, that puts us at a great disadvantage, so running these tests is really the only way to determine how the aquifer is holding up.”
The tests that Levine performs daily are temperature, PH levels and conductivity.
“Conductivity,” he explained, “is measuring the amount of silt, or suspended solids, in the drinking water. We are showing increased levels of silt, which indicates we are pulling on the aquifer too hard. In addition to that, the temperatures of the water in the well are tracking too high.”
Levine explained that the water temperatures in the well, which is 80 feet underground, should be colder than the temperatures of the water in the Henson Creek aquifer, but they are currently very similar. These temperatures should remain consistant but instead are fluctuating.
Levine said that the PH levels are also fluctuating, indicating that aquifer retention is not what it should be. Stressing again that the public need not worry about the quality of drinking water, he said that implementing water restrictions and placing less stress and demand on the well is the safe and logical approach.
“I have spoken with most of the surrounding communities,” he said, “including Silverton, Creede and Olathe and of course, they are all in the same boat as we are. Snow melt is what recharges the aquifer, and of course there is no snow left and very little to begin with.”
The board of trustees will re-assess the situation at the July 5 regular meeting and advance the restrictions to Stage II if need be. Stage II occurs when demand for water exceeds system capacity, which would require mandatory restrictions to water usage.