Too much water means no watering in New Castle
Post Independent Staff
NEW CASTLE – For the second year in a row, New Castle is imposing outside watering restrictions. But the reason this time is heavy runoff, not drought.
A severe drought prompted town officials to impose voluntary watering restrictions in 2002. This year, there is too much water too fast, prompting an emergency ban on all outside watering while the town’s water treatment plant struggles to deal with muddy water.
“We’ve been dealing with the runoff. It’s tricky to treat,” New Castle town manager Steve Rippy said. “This is no fun.”
Town employees posted flyers around town and on the front doors of residences Monday informing citizens that they can’t water their lawns until at least Wednesday – and possibly longer.
“We may end up having to discontinue outside watering until further notice,” Rippy said.
Snowmelt from the Flat Tops is shooting down East Elk Creek at speeds and levels that haven’t been seen in years.
This sudden influx of muddy water – along with soot particles from the 2002 Spring Creek Fire that burned in the East Elk Creek drainage area – has mucked the water enough to cut the water treatment plant’s output by 65 percent.
The water treatment plant normally produces 1 million gallons per day, but the turbid water has cut that production down to just 350,000 gallons per day.
If the outside watering ban is lifted Wednesday, Rippy said, strict regulations will continue, at least for a while.
“If we allow it Wednesday, it would only be between 6 and 10 p.m., but only for an hour,” he said.
Rippy said New Castle residents have been understanding, but he knows that could quickly change once lawns begin to turn brown.
Rippy said workers at the town’s water treatment facility smelled a sulfur-like odor in the water as it entered the facility on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Then on Sunday evening, the workers reported that the water smelled like smoke.
Rippy said by the time the water left the plant, it was fully treated, safe and met stringent purity standards.
Rippy said once water reserves are built back up, the restrictions will be lifted. But until then, New Castle will just have to deal with another of Mother Nature’s shenanigans.
Contact Greg Masse: 945-8515, ext. 511
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