Despite rain, city's water woes continue

Despite rain, city's water woes continue

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BLOOMINGTON - The rainy weekend added a little more to Lake Bloomington, but the city's water department still moved to drawing water from the Mackinaw River reservoir.

The city still has a year's supply of water, and a few good rains could refill the lakes. Spring will be critical for that, experts predict.

The Mackinaw River reservoir was created as a backup to the city's primary water supply, Lake Bloomington and Evergreen Lake.

City water director Craig Cummings said the criteria to use the reservoir - a specific amount of flow coming from the river and the lake levels down a combined 8 feet - were met Monday, when the city switched over to the river.

On Monday the city drew about 10 million gallons of water from the reservoir.

"It is not a tremendous amount," Cummings said. "But it has halted any declines in our lake levels."

That particularly helped Evergreen Lake, which the city had been pumping from prior to Monday, he added. On Tuesday, Evergreen was down 5.8 feet. That was slightly lower than the 5.7 feet deficit recorded Jan. 10.

Meanwhile, Lake Bloomington's levels were brought up about 6 inches after the area received nearly 0.9 of an inch of rain. That 6 inches means about 50 million gallons of water were added to the lake, Cummings said.

Lake Bloomington's level reached 9.6 feet below normal Tuesday. That is up from its lowest point during the drought, 11.6 feet, reached in October.

"This points to how quickly these reservoirs can bounce back with just a little precipitation," Cummings said.

He added that the city still has more than a year's supply of water. "The more rain we get just extends that supply out that much further," he said.

Cummings said he is sure a good couple of rains in the spring will give the area enough moisture to refill the lakes.

An Illinois state climatologist said the spring is going to be critical because it will be harder to pick up on the drought during the summer months of June, July and August.

Jim Angel, a climatologist from the Illinois State Water Survey, told The Pantagraph earlier that rain the area gets in March, April and May will "make or break us."

Last year finished as the 11th driest year on record since 1895.

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