fb pixel

Log In

Reset Password

Balancing out the flow

Medford Water Commission weighs possible water limits because of heavy morning use

Limits on lawn watering may be in the pipeline for Medford Water Commission customers.

July was an all-time high for water usage measured by the commission. The system produced 1,600 million gallons ' 820 million gallons came from the Rogue River. Most of it went to manicured lawns.

Big Butte Springs near Mount McLoughlin is the primary source of the commission's water, but Rogue River water is added to the supply during high-demand summer months.

During Wednesday's board of director's meeting, commission manager Ed Olson said it's not that the water supply is maxed out, it's that the peak time ' 7 a.m. ' is so dramatic that it draws significantly on the system's 32 million gallons of stored water.

The commission would like to see usage become more uniform throughout the day.

Bob Noelle (pronounced Nellie), water-quality superintendent, said with a growing population and the popularity of lawns, it might be prudent to plan ahead so there's less of a draw on reservoirs.

Although they refill during low-use hours, the commission likes to keep the reservoirs as full as they can, he said.

Board member Tom Hall, who likened the reservoirs to surge protectors in an electric outlet, suggested increasing the amount of storage by building more reservoirs.

Olson said there are plans for more storage, and maybe it's time to move those plans up a couple years.

The commission has plans to build a 10 million gallon storage tank on Hanley Hill off Rossanley Drive in 2008.

At least one person sees the peak morning usage as a good sign.

Laura Hodnett, public information coordinator for the commission, said she's happy to see more people are heeding the commission's advice to water lawns early in the day as a means of conserving water.

Olson said other cities may need to do a better job of handling their own peak hours so they don't rely on Medford's reservoir system for backup.

Central Point now feeds directly off our system, said Olson. We think they're 'surging' us more than we think they should be.

The board discussed creating incentives to encourage residents to plant something other than grassy lawns, which require lots of water to stay green.

The immediate alternative is a conservation program, said board President Jack Day. That's what Ashland does.

Medford City Councilman Jim Key suggested the city help out by finding alternatives to grass for the strips adjacent to street projects.

Hall noted that it comes down to appearance.

Cut and dried, we as a city like lawns, said Hall.Water use by city

Medford Water Commission approximate water distribution for July:

Medford844 million gallons

Central Pt.133 million gallons

Eagle Point46 million gallons

Phoenix36 million gallons

Jacksonville33 million gallons

Talent 33 million gallons

It takes a lot of water to keep the Rogue Valley's lawns green, and record usage in July put a strain on local reservoirs. Mail Tribune / Roy Musitelli - Mail Tribune Roy Musitelli