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City eyes aquifer level with dry, hot 10-day forecast

Water source level dipping with no recharge expected anytime soon

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While recent rains helped replenish the Dakota Aquifer, city officials remain concerned about vulnerable low levels in Carroll’s water source.

City officials, in the days before what the National Weather Service is forecasting to be a week-long, or more, run of high temperatures with no rain, are urging residents to reduce water usage to prevent mandatory restrictions.

“We would anticipate water usage will continue to go up with little or no rain expected for the next 10 days,” said City Public Works Director Randy Krauel. “The caution right now is that we are looking at a 10-day period with no rain.”

The U.S. Drought monitor lists Carroll County in a moderate drought but part of neighboring Calhoun, Greene and Sac counties are in severe drought.

The measurements in the Carroll section of the Dakota aquifer, a range of sandstone with water rivering through gaps and cracks dozens of feet into the ground, dropped to 71 feet below surface Monday.

Only a week earlier, on July 12, the level had climbed back to 65 feet below surface after going from 61 feet, 7 inches below surface on April 5 to 72 feet, 9 inches below surface on June 10.

The danger level for the city is at 86 feet below surface. If the aquifer goes below that level, the city may have to start shutting down one or more of its nine wells, which run from Grant Road to west of U.S. Highway 71, all along the Middle Raccoon River Valley.

The city has moved for a rotating pumping plan to simultaneous use of up to seven wells to reach a broader swath of the Carroll well field.

According to city officials, Carroll’s average daily water use is 1.5 million gallons. The water system’s daily capacity is 3.6 million gallons, meaning a main issue now is with water source, not processing and delivery.

For the past eight years, since April 22, 2013, the City of Carroll technically has been operating under an emergency water declaration, which was never lifted, and most notably requires alternate-day landscape-and-lawn irrigation — even days for even-addressed homes, odd days for odd-numbered.

Even in 2013, when the aquifer level hit nearly 77 feet below surface, the city did not fine residents for violating restrictions, although Krauel noted that police did stop at some homes with night-watering systems.

The city monitors the aquifer with measurements three times a week on the north side of Rolling Hills Park.

According to City Manager Mike Pogge-Weaver, here are suggestions of voluntary steps Carroll residents can take today to avoid stricter measures:

— Fix leaking faucets or toilets in your home or business and report any large leaks or broken pipes immediately.

— Watch your water utility bill for unusually high use, which can indicate a hidden leak in your home or business.

— Reduce water usage by shortening showers, washing dishes or clothes only when the load is full.

— Reduce lawn watering to two days per week, and water in the cool of the day. Early morning or late evening are the best times.

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