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Sikeston trying to keep up with water demand

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

(Photo)
Sikeston High School football players take a break from the head to get a drink of water.
SIKESTON -- Three weeks of blazing temperatures aren't just drying up the land, but local water supplies as well.

"Sikeston is keeping up with the electricity demand very well," said Ed Throop, general manager of the Board of Municipal Utilities. "Probably the biggest test on our system right now is our water department system."

Throop said the system can pump and treat about 7 million gallons of water a day. Lately, between 6 and 6.5 million gallons of water have been used.

"We've hit that before, but it's putting a real test on our system," he said. "Because it's stressed, it's upsetting the distribution system."

Although a record amount of water used hasn't been reached yet this year, Throop didn't rule it out. "The week's not over," he said. "With the high heat coming pretty much all week, we can very well set a peak demand this week."

A concern at BMU is that some residential customers will get rusty water if the demand increases.

"With the system at one of its greatest demand points, we're also experiencing water main breaks, so we're coping with that," Throop continued.

Conservation has never been a high priority in Southeast Missouri due to the availability of both water and energy. For instance, since Sikeston has its own power plant, there will never be a problem keeping up with local energy demand, Throop said.

But if someone wants to cut their bill, they should keep the air conditioner at a constant level, between about 75 and 78 degrees. "Don't turn it up in the day and down at night," Throop advised.

And to help alleviate the water crunch, which is mostly caused by lawn irrigation, customers are asked to water late in the evening or early in the mornings. Throop also advised watering lawns just every other day.