Mayor Adam Schweers
Mayor Adam Schweers
Monday, July 23, 2012

Mayor Adam Schweers’ father worked in landscaping so when the Carroll elected official saw the condition of his own lawn three weeks ago he realized the futility of training a hose on it any longer this season.

“I knew it was starting to go dormant,” said Schweers, whose late father, Jerry Schweers, operated Jerry’s Lawn Detailing in Arcadia.

Adam Schweers has the power as mayor to invoke emergency water measures. So far, that hasn’t been necessary.

The mayor has encouraged other residents to follow his lead as the level of the aquifer, the city’s source of water, remains a concern.

“I think that they are being cognizant of the dry weather,” Schweers said. “A lot of people haven’t seen this in a couple of decades.”

The collective results of hundreds of individual decisions about lawn-and-landscape irrigation around Carroll seem to have made a difference in recent days.

On Sunday, the aquifer level climbed back to 81.5 feet below surface after having reached a recent low of 84 feet below surface on July 17. When the aquifer hits 86 feet below surface, both voluntary and involuntary restrictions come into play. At some point after 86 feet below surface the pumps break suction, creating the real potential for faucets to run dry in the city.

“Whatever we’re doing the last few days is working, either voluntary or cutting back, it’s working,” said City Public Works director Randy Krauel.

Krauel said it is clear many people, like the mayor, have stopped lawn irrigation altogether or cut back.

In fact, the city pumped 1.1 million gallons of water on Saturday. On July 9, the city pumped 1.9 million gallons of water. That compares with about 1.2 million in the winter months.

The Dakota, as the aquifer is known, started July at 77 feet, 4 inches.

Krauel said the measurements this weekend shouldn’t be a cause for a return to business as usual. If people think the city is “over the hump” and usage spikes, the course could be set for restrictions, Krauel said.

Longer term, the city is looking at measures to reduce threats of water shortages. The city has eight wells along the Middle Raccoon River between Grant Road and U.S. Highway 71. The wells reach down 150 feet to 203 feet.

On April 23, the city signed a contract with JEO of Carroll for a $19,500 study of potential new wells. Some preliminary results have led to meetings between JEO and the city with test drilling planned after harvest.

Carroll is at the southern end of the Dakota Aquifer where it is more challenging to find water. It’s not as simple as just sending down a drill and connecting a pump.