Drought Putting Strain on Municipal Water Supply

Oneida, TN (2016-09-13) Persistently abnormal dry weather has resulted in browning lawns, premature changing of leaves on some trees, and dwindling water in the lakes and streams in the region.  The drought-like condition is also putting a strain on the municipal water supply for the Oneida Water Department.

“I’m concerned,” commented Oneida Mayor Jack Lay.  Lay, who also serves as the water department’s manager, and the operators of the water plant have been monitoring lake levels for days and looking to the sky hoping for substantial rainfall.  Throughout the year, weather patterns have been persistent but inconsistent.  Since the beginning of the year, locally we have seen weeks of wet weather; however, the wet period has been followed by an equal number of abnormally dry weeks.

“If we don’t get any (substantial) rain, we’re going to have to start adding water,” Lay remarked.  Howard H. Baker Sr. Watershed Lake, the city’s main raw water source has less than 20 days left.  As the supply dwindles from usage and normal evaporation, the water department has already begun looking at its alternatives.  The department has drawn some water from the Oneida City Park Lake, which is a secondary source for the city.  If dry conditions persist, the department will continue to augment its daily needs with more and more from the park lake.  Additionally, the department has contacted the Huntsville Utility District, who has agreed to help with the demand.

As the Baker reservoir nears critical levels, the department will likely implement its primary contingency plan, which will be asking customers to curtail usage, especially for non essential task like watering lawns.  If demand continues to exceed supply, the mandatory closure of high-usage commercial customers, such as car washes, may be necessary.

Meanwhile, local officials are hoping rainy weather predicted for the weekend will give some relief from the drought conditions; however, chances are limited and a significant weather event is currently not forecasted.