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Drought leads to large increases in water usage for 2012

Local officials say drought caused huge increases in water usage in 2012.
Posted on Jan. 29, 2013 at 12:00 a.m. | Updated on Jan. 29, 2013 at 6:15 p.m.

MIDDLEBURY – Water usage in Elkhart County increased dramatically as intense heat and drought baked the area last summer.

The drought raised water usage in the town of Middlebury by 30 million gallons in 2012.

The Middlebury Water and Sewer Department’s annual report shows the town’s water treatment system processed 193,362,800 gallons of water in 2012, said town manager Mark Salee. In 2011 the town processed 163,308,900 gallons, only slightly more than the 161.5 million gallons processed in 2010.

“The reason (for the increase) is that we were in a drought and a lot of people were watering their lawns,” Salee said.

Salee said the town’s water system had no problems handling the increased demand.

“I’m sure other facilities in the state probably had some issues, but our system handled (the increased volume) fine,” he said.

The city of Elkhart saw a similar rise in water usage in 2012.

Laura Kolo, the city’s utility manager, said the city pumped 2.8 billion gallons of water in 2011 and 3.2 billion gallons in 2012, an increase of 400 million gallons.

“(Water use) was up a little bit in May and definitely up in June,” Kolo said.

While the increase did strain the system slightly, Kolo said the city did not have to request residents to voluntarily restrict their water usage.

Kent Holdren, Goshen’s water superintendant, said water usage was up in Goshen as well.

“We did pump quite a bit more last year,” said Kent Holdren, water superintendent for Goshen.

Goshen’s water usage increased from 1,217,641,350 gallons in 2011 to 1,367,584,706 in 2012, a difference of 149,943,356 gallons.

Holdren said that economic factors also may have impacted the increase in water usage in 2012.

“We’ve seen a decline (in water use) with the decline in the economy, but the economy did come up a little bit (in 2012),” Holdren said.

Tough economic conditions during the recession caused residents and business in the area to cut back on their water usage to save money, Holdren said.


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