The Osceola Water Works Board of Trustees has been closely monitoring water levels at West Lake – Osceola, Iowa’s only water source. With much of the state in drought conditions and output from the lake already exceeding safe withdrawal limits, the board hoped to see some relief in the form of rain, but with no precipitation across the area in recent weeks and none in the immediate forecast, the board acted Thursday night to implement Section 3 of the Water Conservation Ordinance, prohibiting use of municipal water services outside restricted parameters and emergency situations.
According to HDR Engineering, the safe withdrawal rate from West Lake hovers between 800,000 and 900,000 gallons per day. With recent population and industry growth across the area, an average of 1.4 MGD (Million Gallons per Day) is what’s being drawn from Osceola’s only water source.
West Lake continues to suffer from years of drought cycles. With current levels 68.04” below the spillway overflow, Osceola’s West Lake is now in its third year with lake levels being below the spillway, last exceeding the overflow in May of 2020.
US Drought Monitor, this week, shows 91 of Iowa’s 99 counties in “Severe Drought” conditions or worse. Osceola’s West Lake, located in central Clarke County, is situated in a “Severe Drought” area and is just a few miles from areas of “Extreme drought”.
“The Osceola Water Works Board of Trustees is concerned with lake levels and the possibility of risking access to a safe, clean water supply for our customers,” said Brandon Patterson, Osceola Water Works Superintendent. “Without considerable rain, the community has to come together to help conserve.”
The Board’s decision brings water conservation ordinances from Section 2 – Water Warning, to Section 3 – Water Emergency, across all municipal water customers, residential, commercial, and industrial.
Section 3: Water Emergency – Restrictions
A Water Emergency may be declared when the water level in West Lake reaches an elevation 1067.0 feet above Mean Sea Level (5-feet below normal pool elevation of 1072.0 MSL). Under these conditions, no user shall use municipal water service in any manner contrary to the following:
A. All outdoor water use, except for fire and health hazard prevention, is prohibited.
B. All commercial and industrial uses of water not essential in providing products or services is prohibited.
C. Water use not necessary for the preservation of life, or the general welfare of the community is prohibited.
D. Water use for all users shall be automatically reduced to the “Base Allocation” described below during a Water Emergency.
E. Southern Iowa Rural Water Association (SIRWA) is requested to switch as much of their system serviced by Osceola to be supplied by another source where possible when the water level in West Lake reaches an elevation of 1069 feet above Mean Sea Level (3-feet below normal pool elevation of 1072.0 MSL.)
Water reclaimed or recycled after some primary use, such as water that has been used for washing or cooling, may be used without restriction. Additionally, water derived from sources other than the Osceola Water Plant may be used without restriction.
You can view the full Osceola Water Works Water Conservation Ordinance at their Website, www.OsceolaWaterworks.com
Osceola Water Works continues to look at options to increase access to water for their customers. Many ideas have been discussed and presented to the Board, but all suggestions need more research and additional engineering input to make sure the solution will be viable and cost effective.
“We understand this is a burden on all of our water customers,” said Alisha Kale, Osceola Water Board Chair. “We are continuing to pursue other options to supply our community with safe water.”