Cheney residents frustrated over summer water restrictions

KREM 2's Jane McCarthy looks into the restricted water access for Cheney residents.

CHENEY, Wash. -- People living in Cheney are growing frustrated with a recurring theme of summer: water restrictions.

The signs of summertime in Cheney include sunshine, baseball and these days, brown lawns. Residents feel like this is getting to be the norm.

 "I was annoyed because it happens every year," said Carla, who lives in Cheney. 

The past few years, drought conditions prompted irrigation restrictions but so far in 2017 no drought. Then June 30, one of Cheney's biggest water-producing wells blew its bearings and failed.

"This well we had recently rehabbed and we thought it was going just fine but there was a little power disturbance and the well went down," said Cheney Mayor Tom Trulove.

Trulove said that is when the reservoir levels started to drop, veering into unsafe territory.

"And it's important to maintain them at a certain level for fire flow and we got worried about that," Trulove explained.

When you compare lawns to lives, the choice was simple. On July 6, the city quit watering most parks and school playfields and instructed residents to follow suit.

"We're willing to do something pretty unpopular because life safety trumps everything," Trulove said.

But the people who live there said they think Cheney is walking a water tightrope and many believe growth is out-pacing infrastructure.

"I don't know if it's because they're building too many apartments, we can't keep up with the water,” said Carla.

"We can supply all the water you need for brushing your teeth and flushing your toilet and taking a bath and that's not the problem. The problem is irrigation and typically apartment complexes don't have big lawns and aren't big irrigators," Trulove explains.

The city has eight wells and generally only run on one or two of those nine months out of the year.

When summer hits, irrigation starts and use tends to triple, so a drought or busted well bearings can knock the system right off track. The mayor said they are already looking at options to increase capacity and plan to hire a consultant to help chart a course.

"We've been looking at water re-use from our wetland. We got permission to withdraw water there. There are about half a dozen other possible things to do," said Trulove.

City leader said residents will be able to return to limited lawn irrigation on Friday. This means people can water on even or odd days depending on whether you live at an even or odd numbered address. They ask for watering to be done between 10:00 p.m. to 8:00 a.m. or from 8:00 p.m. to 8:00 a.m. if you do not have an automatic timer.

© 2017 KREM-TV


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