Kenai seeing sharp rise in demand for water

Posted: Friday, June 30, 2000

KENAI (AP) -- Kenai is seeing a dramatic upswing in water demand, which together with dry conditions is taxing the ability of the city's water system to maintain an adequate supply.

Keith Kornelis, public works director, said one of the problems is that the city's three wells, all located in the Beaver Creek area, provide water via a single 12-inch-diameter pipeline.

The wells are capable of supplying all the water the city's residents need, but the 12-inch main's limited capacity creates a bottleneck, Kornelis said.

The city also has a 3-million-gallon water tank to supplement the water main, but when demand is high, it gets drawn down quickly and is slow to refill.

He said summer demand has averaged 1.3 million gallons a day, more than double the midwinter demand of 600,000 gallons a day.

''When it's very dry, there are a lot of sprinklers going on all over town,'' Kornelis said. ''If there are too many days of dry weather, we can't keep up.''

June has been very dry in the central Kenai Peninsula. As of Thursday, only a quarter-inch of rain had fallen in the entire month.

Kornelis said too many Kenai residents tend to overwater their lawns.

''What bothers me is people watering the streets,'' he said. ''We're talking thousands of gallons, and it happens all over town. It's a waste, and it's just a shame.''

Soldotna is also seeing a spike in water usage, mostly from people watering their lawns, according to the city's utility manager.

''We're not having any problems, but we have a high demand,'' said Rick Wood. ''But if we didn't have the million-gallon reservoir we put in two years ago, we'd be out of water.''

Wood said three of the city's wells are running 22 to 23 hours a day to keep up with demand that reaches in excess of a million gallons on a hot, dry day.

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