While the city’s water system has been running at full capacity during the extreme hot and dry conditions, it has been able to keep up with demand, city officials said.

“So far we’re holding our own,” City Administrator Jim Briggs said this week. “We’re at 100 percent capacity. All the towers are full and we are recharging them.”

Kevin Quaethem, the city’s water/wastewater superintendent, said the nine city deep wells are pumping around 3.5 million gallons of water per day.

That’s over 1 million gallons more a day than last year at this time, Quaethem said.

On the other side, the city is not treating any more wastewater than last year at this time, he explained.

“So that means the people and businesses are using more water on their lawns and gardens,” Quaethem said. “That’s where the water is going.”

The city uses a lot of water in dry months to irrigate the various athletic fields in the park system.

The city has nine deep wells and all are in service during peak times, Quaethem said. Two of those have backup generators in the event of a power outage and the city has a portable generator that can be moved to any of the other well sites, Briggs noted.

The city also has three water storage tanks with a total capacity of 2.5 million gallons.

Quaethem said his staff keeps close watch on the levels of the storage tanks.

No Rationing Yet

Currently the city is able to maintain water levels to meet peak demands.

However, Quaethem said, if a well would break down, the city likely would have to go to a water rationing system.

The plan would be for the city to first cut back on watering playing fields, then go to a rotating rationing plan where residents in different wards would be able to water lawns and gardens only on certain days.

“We haven’t gotten there yet,” Briggs said. “But if a well would go out then we would have to look at rationing.”