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Kenai lets up on water squeeze

Posted: June 28, 2013 - 8:32am

The city of Kenai will lift its voluntary water restrictions Sundays and Wednesdays, following water shortages that started several weeks ago when residents began consuming more water than the city’s wells could produce. The city encourages residents to conserve water during the rest of the week.

“We want to provide as much water (as possible) to the residents of Kenai,” Kenai City Manager Rick Koch said.

Kenai residents drained about 130,400 gallons of water from the city’s lone 3-million-gallon reservoir Tuesday when it lifted its voluntary water restrictions, he said. But the city recovered the loss through Wednesday night and is now at full capacity, he said.

The Tuesday allowance tested Kenai’s water shortage, allowing the two-day-a-week unregulated water usage to be justified, Koch said.

“We think that’ll work,” he said.

But the solution is two-pronged.

Several rainy days would offer a short-term fix, he said: residents would stop watering lawns, washing cars or cleaning driveways so liberally. Although if the warm, dry weather persists, Kenai could return to its voluntary water restrictions, he said.

The long-term solution is tying another high-volume-production well into Kenai’s reservoir, he said.

Currently Kenai can produce about 1 million gallons of water a day with its three-well system, he said. And without voluntary water restrictions, residents were consuming daily about 200,000 to 400,000 more gallons of water than the city’s wells could produce, he said.

Kenai will tie in a fourth well in less than three months, however, increasing the city’s production rate, he said.

A fourth well — which will be a high-production well — will solve another problem, he said.

“We’re at 24 feet (of reserve water) and we have a catastrophic incident, like the motor on the large-output municipal well burns up,” he said.

Without its single high-production well, Kenai would have only three days of water if its reservoir were full, he said.

He said the city’s reserves is not the problem; it is its water production capabilities. The fourth well will add redundancy to Kenai’s public utility system to guard against any malfunctions, he said.

Until Kenai ties in its fourth well, the city will monitor its reservoir levels and wait for rain, he said.

“I’m hoping we’re out of the woods,” he said. “It’s that time of year that we’ll start seeing some sprinkles.”

Dan Schwartz can be reached at daniel.schwartz@peninsulaclarion.com.

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