Janesville residents using more water
JANESVILLE Janesville city residents used an average of about 2 million more gallons of water per day in June compared to last year, but officials aren’t worried about running dry.
City water utility employees are seeing a “substantial” increase in water use as residents water continue to water lawns and plantings during the recent drought.
In June 2011, the city averaged 10.6 million gallons a day compared to 12.5 million this year, said David Botts, utility director. Data was not yet available for July, but use has increased even more in the last couple weeks, he said.
“We have plenty of water to provide to our customers,” Botts said. “Right now we’ve been running probably around 16 million gallons a day,” and as high as 18 million.
Before the dry weather set in, the city ran 9 million to 10 million gallons a day, though water usage always increases in summer, Botts said.
The utility has a pumping capacity of about 30 million gallons a day.
Between city meter reader Al Meehan and one co-worker, all residential city water meters are read every 10 weeks.
“We see everything,” Meehan said, noting the current dry conditions and increased water usage are the worst he has seen.
“You can tell if they’re watering—the grass is green, of course,” he said. “People are just trying to keep things alive.”
Many of the people who are watering also want to know how much their water bills are, Meehan said.
The billing department has taken 60 calls in one day with that very question, he said.
The city offers a reduced rate for irrigating if residents buy and install a clear water meter, Botts said.
The utility has been functioning well through the drought, and the whole Rock River basin area has a good supply of groundwater, he said.
“There’s no indication of any concern about the water quantity in this whole Rock River basin,” Botts said.
Still, he advised residents to be aware of their watering and avoid unnecessary use.
While watering bans are popping up in other areas of southern Wisconsin, Botts said he doesn’t foresee that happening in Janesville.
“Certainly we have to evaluate as time goes on,” he said.
The increased water sales help fund the utility, Botts said, but with more water use comes more expense in pumping, electrical and chemical costs.
“It’s not just a clear profit,” he said.
Clear water meters
The city of Janesville offers clear water meters for sale to city residents. The meters measure outdoor water use exclusively so residents are only charged for the water, not additional sewer charges associated with indoor water use.
The water utility has had five people come in for meters in the last few weeks—about the same amount as it would see in a full year, customer service representative Jodi Athmann said.
To get a meter, a resident first must get a $50 plumbing permit from City Hall, Athmann said. The homeowner then would hire a plumber to install the extra piping, and the city plumbing inspector must approve the work. Water utility staff will install the meter and reading device. The resident’s cost for the meter, reading device and city installation is $192.83.
Residents save $1.89 on 100 cubic feet, or 750 gallons, of clear water for the first 11,250 gallons. Homeowners can call the city billing department at (608) 755-3090 for records on their bills and possible savings. For questions on the plumbing, call (608) 755-3060, and for questions for the water utility, call (608) 755-3115.