ARTICLE

Cedar Rapids water treatment plant coping with high demand

Demand in late July approached plant's distribution capacity

Four UV filter tubes sit at the J Avenue NE Water treatment plant in Cedar Rapids Friday December 17, 2010. (Becky Malew
Four UV filter tubes sit at the J Avenue NE Water treatment plant in Cedar Rapids Friday December 17, 2010. (Becky Malewitz/The Gazette)

High demand for water is putting stress on water systems across Iowa.

With no relief in sight, Cedar Rapids city workers are keeping a close eye on how much water is going through the distribution system. Officials said they're handling the high flow rates without any water restrictions. Some communities, such as Ames and Coralville, have restrictions on their water usage, in hopes of decreasing demand.

It's a growing concern for many as the sun pours down and dries up local rivers.

“The river influences the amount of water we can draw from our wells," said Cedar Rapids water treatment plant manager Tariq Baloch. "Currently we are able to draw the needed amount from our wells. If the river would drop even further, that may be an area of concern."

On a typical summer day, the city’s water customers use about 45 million gallons of water. At the peak of the drought this year, customers exceeded 50 million gallons.

"On July 25, we saw our pumpage increase to over 53 and a half [million] so that’s an extremely unusual condition for us," Baloch said.

The most the plant can treat and distribute is 60 million gallons a day. The city said the plant is handling the high flows with the help of infrastructure updates in recent years.

"We are monitoring our well conditions and making repairs, making sure that our plant performance is where it need to be, and if we reach a point to where we had some concerns, we are going to have to decide at that point what our action is,” Baloch said.

At this point, the city of Cedar Rapids is not asking residents to restrict the amount of water they're using.Despite the lack of any restrictions, Baloch said it's important for people to conserve. That is a message they share all year round, but they said it's vital to remember during the dry period.

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