Highlighting A Critical Need – Sunnyside’s Water Supply
July 26, 2012 Leave a comment
Well #6 Temporarily Out of Service; Well #7 Being Monitored Closely
These pictures show repairs being made to Well #6. It was shutdown when the pump began to bring up sand. The City Council has made an emergency appropriation of about $90,000 to fix the issue, and get the well back into service.
As a young boy growing up in the Southeastern U.S., water supply was not usually a big concern. We averaged over 50 inches of rainfall each year, and had large man made lakes that served as reservoirs. We also had aquifers and wells to augment our sources of water.
Growing up in a rural area, my household supply of water came from a public well managed by a water utility district. My grandfather served, for a time, as one of the local water commissioners. I still remember being at play in his yard, when utility crew came up to his house in their large rig, and one by one, they went to see my grandfather inside. Later, I was to learn that due to some unexpected problems, these men had performed extra work for which they needed to be paid. My grandfather had the checkbook for the water utility, was giving each employee a handwritten paycheck!
During the late 1980s, we experienced a severe drought. Water supplies reached critical lows. Lawns turned brown, fields failed to produce crops, pasture grass, and hay. Herds of livestock were threatened when ponds dried up completely. Reservoirs reached unheard of lows.
Residents were asked not to wash cars at home, or fill residential swimming pools. Operators of car washes and other industrial users were close to having their water supply reduced, or in some cases, cut off all together.
The times were tough, but we somehow got through it. The drought eventually ended, and the reservoirs slowly filled back up.
Long-time residents of Sunnyside are more accustomed to hearing officials discuss water. Our dry climate and reliance on irrigation demands it.
Residents need to also take notice of our municipal water supply. Currently, our city’s water supply is provided through five public wells. These are known by the imaginative designations of Wells #6, #7, #8, #9, and #11.
Currently, Well #6 is offline. The pump at this well shutdown when it began to pull up sand. Emergency expenditures have been authorized by the City Council to diagnose and repair the problems.
This is the high demand season for water usage, but public works is able to meet the needs of the city through the other existing wells.
Now enter Friday the 13th: I am not a superstitious man, but on this date we experienced an unscheduled shutdown of Well #7. 40% of the city’s wells were offline. City employees scrambled to provide water for citizens, and get the well back into operation. Large industrial users were advised of the problem, and asked to implement conservation measures.
Replacing a blown fuse seems to have fixed the issue at Well #7, but it is being monitored closely to ensure there is not a larger problem needing to be addressed.
This is a wake-up call for all of us. In order to maintain our quality of life, and ability to grow as a city, we must maintain a dependable supply of water to industry and households. In addition, we must retain capacity we can tap into as we continue to grow.
The City of Sunnyside is currently able to meet demands, without citizens being asked to make unusual sacrifices. City staff are researching issues of water rights, and weighing options to bring additional wells online. Their hard work ensures that we have water to drink, that our municipal swimming pool is available in the summer, and that our industrial users can continue to operate.
This is not an issue we think of much, so long as we have water when we turn on the tap, and when we reach to flush in our bathrooms. Through the hard work of city staff and contractors, let’s hope it stays that way.