low water levels in Osceola, iowa

Photo – June 20, 2023: Water levels continue to drop through Squaw Creek, which supplies West Lake and Osceola’s water source.

The adage “April Showers Bring May Flowers” is nice, but when there’s less than expected rainfall, those flowers, and more-so, the water supply throughout the area suffers. Through April, May and June of this year, south central Iowa has seen lower than anticipated rainfall. With temperatures on the rise this week and the dog days of Summer just around the corner, the Osceola Water Works Board and staff are watching the water levels at West Lake closely.

“West Lake levels continue to drop,” said Brandon Patterson, Osceola Water Works Superintendent. Our water supply will need to be monitored and we’ll potentially need to increase area conservation efforts.”

Currently, Osceola Water Works Conservation plan is at Section 1, which encourages voluntary water conservation and reduced water usage.

Section 1: Water Watch – Voluntary Conservation Measures

    1. Reduced watering of lawns, shrubs, or gardens, including automatic sprinklers.
    2. Reduced outdoor watering of all types between the hours of 8:00 A.M. and 10:00 P.M.
    3. Reduced car washing.
    4. No water should be used to wash streets, parking lots, driveways, sidewalks or building exteriors.
    5. No water should be used for nonessential cleaning of commercial and industrial equipment, machinery, and interior spaces.
    6. Water should be served at restaurants only upon request of the customer.
    7. Voluntary reduction of water uses of all types is encouraged.

Without considerable rain soon, the board will need to evaluate raising the conservation plan for the area to Section 2. Osceola’s Water Conservation Plan: Section 2 intentionally restricts water use of nonessential activities (watering lawns and gardens, washing cars, etc.)  and includes penalties for conservation infractions with surcharges of up to $130.00.

“The board meets again on Thursday, July 13th and will make a decision on the next steps regarding its conservation plan,” said Patterson.

West Lake, Osceola’s single source of consumer and commercial water withdrawal rate, has been exceeding the safe water withdrawal rate for over a year. A recent 12-month average showed Osceola’s water withdrawal rate from West Lake at 1,479,994 gallons/day.  According to engineer studies, the safe daily withdrawal rate shouldn’t exceed 900,000 gallons/day to maintain service to its customers. While some activities like moving the lower intake to a more optimal level in the lake are in motion, without more rain, there will be supply concerns.

“We want to make sure that everyone is working together to conserve what water we have,” said Patterson.

If you have questions or would like more information on the Osceola Water Works Conservation Plan or services provided through Osceola Water Works, please contact Brandon Patterson, Water Superintendent at the Osceola Water Works, 208 W Jefferson St, Osceola, IA 50213, phone: (641) 342-1435, email: [email protected].

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