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Florence declares water emergency

Staff writers

The Florence City Council issued a water emergency Tuesday under the guidance of water manager Larry Scriven.

Council member Trayce Warner said the warning instructs residents to curtail water usage but does not mandate usage amounts. Warner asked residents to be prudent — by limiting lawn watering, for example.

“There’s a potential problem,” Warner said. “The water table at the springs is low and the demand is up. We may have to mandate water usage.”

Drought conditions are also affecting the water level at Marion Reservoir, which is two feet below conservation level.

“It doesn’t sound like much,” said Park Ranger Traci Robb on Tuesday, “but the lake has only an eight-foot pool.”

The lake water level had been drawn down two feet in the winter and had not recovered.

Because of the low water level, the boat ramp at French Creek Cove has been closed because it’s too shallow to launch watercrafts.

“Hillsboro Cove can also be a problem,” Robb said, particularly if people don’t know the hazards in the lake.

Hillsboro and Marion use the reservoir as their drinking water supply with Hillsboro providing water to Peabody.

Hillsboro Administrator Larry Paine said there is a water conservation plan in place but there are no particular criteria for when to implement it.

He said as long as the water treatment plant can keep up with the demand, there is no need to restrict water usage.

The city council has the authority to implement water restrictions. If Hillsboro were to restrict water usage, the City of Peabody would probably follow suit, Paine said.

Marion’s water conservation plan has three stages. The first is a water watch when the city storage falls below 85 percent capacity with three-day demands more than 450,000 gallons per day. The reservoir level also must reach 80 percent of the total water storage available for water supply.

If this were to occur, customers would be asked to refrain from outdoor water use and to make efficient use of water by washing full loads of clothing, taking short showers, and not letting faucets run.

According to Marion Administrator Doug Kjellin, the city’s water plant is running around 400,000 gallons of water per day, 70 percent capacity.

“Our water towers and clear wells have been topped off or filled to normal levels every day,” he said.

There is no indication that a water watch is necessary.

The second stage is a water warning, which would further restrict watering. The final stage is a water emergency where all outdoor water use would be banned and wasting water would be prohibited.

The city administrator is authorized to implement the appropriate conservation measure.

Kjellin added that grass will go dormant in the heat and watering would have little effect.

Last modified July 20, 2011

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