-- — So far this month, 1.83 inches of rain have fallen in Batesville, more than June and July combined, Batesville water utility manager Steve Wintz told the city council Aug. 13.
August’s average rainfall here is 3.31 inches, he added.
“We are currently 6.3 inches short on rainfall for the year.”
A capacity study of Bischoff Reservoir, the city’s main water source, showed that when the 18.5-foot-deep lake is full, it has 490 million gallons of usable water in its top 12 feet, which would last 356 days with no rain falling. The bottom 6 feet of water in the reservoir is considered unusable, according to Wintz.
Currently the reservoir is down 27 inches. That means if the drought continues, it could provide enough water for 140 days. At that point the water level would reach the suction area 6 feet below its usual surface. The manager called that level “critical,” noting water shrunk to that depth just once before, in 1988.
He added, “We currently have 255 days of water left to reach the 12-foot suction,” when the reservoir would be considered empty.
Other city reservoirs also have less water: Oser and Mollenkramer, each down 24 inches; Feller, down 26 inches; and Hahn, down 36 inches.
The silver lining: Since the sprinkling reduction mandate began July 27, “our (water) pumping has dropped 30 percent, which has helped a lot ... Everybody has helped out.”
Councilman Kevin Chaffee suggested installing a dam in Laughery Creek and capturing that water for nonpotable uses, such as landscaping. It would not need to be treated as residents would not be drinking it.
“Sell it like they do in Florida and other arid states.”
Wintz pointed out, “You’d have quite an expense” as pumps and separate water pipes would have to be purchased and installed.
Mayor Rick Fledderman said, “It’s an option that comes with a price tag … right now we’re exploring all those options.
“Water is becoming … a hot commodity with the weather patterns.”
The mayor reported Hillcrest Golf and Country Club leaders have upgraded the sprinkler system. “It’s much more efficient.”
Wintz explained water from the creek running through the golf course is used to nourish grass, trees and shrubs there. Since city officials urged citizens to reduce water use, “they haven’t purchased any water from us.”
Debbie Blank can be contacted at 812-934-4343, Ext. 113; or debbie.blank@ batesvilleheraldtribune.com.