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Kenai water pinch lifting, but dry times not over

Posted: June 22, 2013 - 9:20pm

Kenai residents Tuesday can resume normal water use for one day. The change comes more than a week after voluntary-restricted water use was sought as the city consumed more water than its wells could produce. But the voluntary restrictions will continue the rest of the week.

“Still don’t power wash your house,” Kenai Public Works Director Sean Wedemeyer said. But “water your lawn … clean the water in your fish tank.”

The Tuesday allowance will let Kenai monitor its reservoir levels to determine how much water its residents can use without draining the city’s 3-million-gallon in reserve, he said.

Kenai’s water shortage started early this month as city residents began consuming water at summer-time rates — watering yards, washing cars, cleaning driveways.

Although it is a problem most years, this summer’s dry weather and blue skies exacerbated the water shortage, City Manager Rick Koch said. Before Kenai requested that its residents restrict their water usage, its lone reservoir was losing about 130,400 gallons of water daily.

Kenai currently delivers water to its residents and businesses from a three-well system, which produces 1 million gallons of water daily. Without residents restricting their noral water use, Kenai consumed 1.2 to 1.4 million gallons a day.

“It’s just a matter of how much water you can pull from the ground,” Koch said.

But since the voluntary water restrictions, Kenai is losing half what it was during the peak and the tank has risen to a safe 2.8 million gallons of water, Koch said.

All the city needs now is rain, he said. Residents will stop watering their yards if it rains and, as a result, Kenai’s water production rate would increase, he said.

According to National Weather Service, the high pressure ridge that hovered over the Kenai Peninsula with warm, clear weather for several weeks will soon be leaving. Cooler temperatures and more rain is expected, but that could change overnight, said Thomas Pepe, general forecaster for the National Weather Service.

Koch said Kenai’s water shortage — and others in past years — could have been avoided had the city only considered what its water needs would be as its population grew.

But in about 90 days, once it is manufactured and delivered to the city, Kenai will link a fourth well to its public utility system.

The $200,000 well will boost Kenai’s water production abilities by 1,200 gallons a minute, ending concerns about future water shortages for about 30 years, he said.

“I don’t want to cast any disparations about the person who sat here before me,” Koch said, “but the city didn’t really look ahead. … There really wasn’t a lot of thought about volume.”

Dan Schwartz can be reached at

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BigRedDog 06/23/13 - 05:04 pm
That is just plain old DISSING

Nothing being said about the NEW EPA standard of <2ppb arsenic DQing 2 other active City Wells. This leaves only the Beaver Creek well site with pure enough water that the City blends in just enough of that >2ppb water from those sources to stay <2ppb. But those wells Did exist and there was no laps in the timing of resources to indicate any error on our prior CM. Wonder what they will say about you when your GONE.

Sam Von Pufendorf
Sam Von Pufendorf 06/24/13 - 08:37 am
Good citizenry

I have seen several instances since notices were posted door to door, of people not only watering their lawns, but watering the streets bordering their lawns. Careless reckless use of this vital resource despite the warnings by local government is indicative of a selfish and insensitive public.
Over 50% of water use is for the purpose of watering lawns and gardens in the US. This waste will eventually catch up to us as our population grows and as evidenced here,fresh consumable water becomes more scarce.
We should conserve this resource not only during emergencies, but as common every day practice. I have yet to water my lawn this year and it seems to be suffering minimally. Conserve now to avoid higher costs and more frequent shortages in the future.

Seafarer 06/24/13 - 10:34 am
Lawns Pollute More Than Anything Else

Lawns are the biggest waste of water and land. Because of the false pride they seem to have with people, they use chemicals that end up in the water table. The rampant use of Round-Up has polluted the areas next to the railroad. Don't eat the berries! Covenants the say you must have a lawn have to go. What Alaskan wants anyone telling them what to do with their land, anyway?

Rather than a lawn, plant a Victory Garden, a Botanical Garden, a Rock Garden. Nothing tastes better than the fruits of your labor. And please use organic methods for the sustainability of your soil to provide for you for years to come. A chemical garden (or lawn) kills the microbes that plants need to survive, creating the need for more chemicals. Indeed, a vicious circle.

corinnep 06/24/13 - 07:21 pm
Rick Koch has been City

Rick Koch has been City Manager of Kenai since 2006, so what's his excuse for not dealing with Kenai's well known low water flow/pressure in his last 7 years on the job? Blame the prior city manager, right.

Safetypin3 06/25/13 - 09:57 pm
“I don’t want to cast any

“I don’t want to cast any disparations about the person who sat here before me,” Koch said...

Cheap shot. But then, consider the source.

Suss 06/26/13 - 06:00 am

What is a "disparations", saying it and then spelling it does not help one figure out what the word is.

cast dispersions/cast aspersions
“Aspersions” is an unusual word whose main meaning is “false or misleading accusations,” and its only common use is in the phrase “cast aspersions.” To disperse a crowd is to break it up and scatter it, which perhaps leads some people to mistakenly associate “cast” (“throw”) with “disperse” but the expression is “cast aspersions.”

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