At the October 7th Osceola Water Works Board of Trustees meeting, the Osceola Water Conservation Ordinance was increased to Section 3 – Water Emergency. Since that time, actions have been taken to help the community with water management as well as to find conservation solutions to help reduce water usage. From checking for household leaks to the reduction of personal consumption by switching to bottled water, some efforts have been easier than others. But many in the community, including some of Osceola’s biggest water users, have gone above and beyond to help stabilize water levels in West Lake.
“While, of course, we’re in a lower usage period for water consumption our community has really stepped up to reduce their average use,” said Brandon Patterson, Osceola Water Superintendent. “Some of the reductions have been impressive and solutions taken show a real commitment to our overall conservation.”
Osceola Foods, easily the largest industrial user of Osceola water, not only implemented conservation efforts across their operations, but changed how equipment and cleaning efforts were done to reduce water use. They accomplished this by changing the sequence of operation on their refrigeration system condensers to utilize fan cooling priority before water evaporative cooling. This reduced the plant’s water consumption over a single month by approximately 366,000 gallons. They’ve also changed the frequency of the clean-up schedules in various production areas, reducing water consumption by an additional 80,000 gallons a month. Plant administrators are also considering options for the installation of low flow toilets and waterless urinals.
“Thinking outside the box like this shows real commitment to helping conserve water at all levels,” said Patterson.
The Clarke Community School District also took immediate steps when they were notified of the need to reduce water usage. From mid-November-on, the district implemented the use of recyclable dish wear and utensils to cut the need for washing dishes in the cafeterias.
“When we were made aware of the need to conserve water, we immediately pivoted to recyclable materials,” said Kurt DeVore, Clarke Community Schools’ Superintendent. “This also shows our students and families that each person can make a difference in this effort.”
The school district’s quick efforts were impactful enough to reduce their water consumption across the district from 225,450 gallons in December to 210,382 in January.
Commercial and Industrial water customers were not alone in their efforts to help the community with its water conservation. Residential use, starting in October when the ordinance was announced, began dropping and continued over the months of November and December. Even with holidays and families gathering for festivities, water usage dropped from 5,122,170 gallons in November to 4,662,103 in December.
While West Lake’s water levels in October and November decreased from 1,067.10’ MSL (feet above Mean Sea Level) to 1,065.90’ MSL – a drop of 1.20’ MSL – the month of December saw lake level drops slow from 1,065.60′ MSL to 1,065.37′ MSL, a difference of only 0.23’.
“Winter weather, rain or additional snow in the forecast always helps, but we know that can’t be as impactful as a concerted community-wide effort to conserve,” said Alisha Kale, Osceola Water Board President.
Additional raw water resources and research on solutions to augment the supply for West Lake continue to proceed. EPA and DNR conversations are taking place with representatives from the city for a number of options including the reclamation of treated water from the wastewater treatment plant. Discussions with SIRWA and the possible reduction or stoppage of their 350,000-gallon per day usage are also proceeding. Other conversations with private landowners and surrounding community options are ongoing.