City residents urged to be vigilant in their water use
Despite lawn sprinkling bans and strict water conservation efforts now in place elsewhere around Indiana, the City of Greencastle has no intention of following suit.
In fact, the city's water supply reportedly remains in good shape.
That was the word from Water Superintendent Richard Hedge, who addressed the City Council Tuesday night at the request of Greencastle Mayor Sue Murray.
Consumption is up and the water level is down in city wells, but that remains far from a recipe for disaster, Hedge assured.
The water superintendent said despite current conditions he doesn't see a need to enforce a watering ban or impose water-rationing efforts in Greencastle even though we are in the midst of what the National Weather Service says is the area's longest dry spell in 104 years.
"We can't predict the weather," Hedge said, "so we want to ask people to voluntarily conserve if they can.
"Don't waste it," he stressed, alluding to personal water use, "we don't know how long the drought is going to last."
City wells are down about 2.5 feet, Hedge said, noting that some of that decrease may because of evaporation alone during the lengthy period of 90- and 100-degree heat recently.
Back in the spring, the water level in the city wells was about 24-25 feet down from the well platform, while currently it has dropped to 27 feet.
Regardless, Hedge said, the city's water supply remains good.
He advised the Council of a series of old Sanborn maps from 1887, 1898 and 1907 that describe the City of Greencastle as having an "inexhaustible well capacity."
While that may be stretching the truth a bit, Hedge reassured that the wells remain in good shape despite present population and consumption being twice what they were when those old maps were issued.
"That was back when our population was something like 5,500 and water consumption was about 848,000 gallons (per day), which is around half of what we currently use," Hedge told the Banner Graphic.
The ongoing drought is being compared to the summer of 1988. However, things currently are not nearly as dire as they were that year, Hedge noted.
Water quit running over the spillway on Big Walnut Creek back in 1988, and the city had to impose bans against sprinkling lawns, filling swimming pools and washing cars or trucks anywhere but commercially.
Hedge said old-timers have told him "you could walk all the way to the iron bridge (on the opposite side of the creek bank) without getting your feet wet."
Currently, there is "still some water trickling over the dam," the water superintendent reported.
And people appear to have curtailed their water use without being forced into compliance.
"We are just asking people to conserve," Hedge said. "I think most of them are.
"We're not telling people not to watering their lawns," he said, "but just from a cost standpoint, the amount of water it would take (to keep your lawn green and adequately watered) would be costly. It's a losing battle anyway, I think."
Council member Jinsie Bingham joked that she wished she knew of a way to "dry-clean cars."
"We are seeing a lot of dusty vehicles around town," Hedge agreed.
"Overall, the water supply as of now is good," he told the Council in conclusion.
"That's reassuring," Council member Bingham responded. "Thank you."
Council President Adam Cohen expressed the prevailing attitude of city leaders in further addressing the public.
"Be smart," he urged. "Conserve water, don't waste it."