Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
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No water for city of Merrill
Increased use of groundwater sucks water tower dry; fix expected to take two days
By TY BEAVER and SARA HOTTMAN, Herald and News 7/1/10
Bob Bunyard, owner of Klamath Pump Center, explains how they
will adjust the pipe in the city’s to reach the dropped water level.
MERRILL — A 20-foot drop in southern Klamath County’s groundwater level has left taps in the city of Merrill dry.
Residents on Wednesday lined up to get free potable water to use for cooking, cleaning and drinking.
Bob Bunyard, owner of Klamath Pump Center, said the water table appeared to have dropped below the depth of the pipe that carries water from the city’s well into its water tower.
“This has never happened before,” said Bunyard, who has worked with Klamath Pump Center for nearly 20 years.
Klamath County Commissioner Cheryl Hukill said Wednesday the county would immediately send an emergency declaration request to Gov. Ted Kulongoski, and staff with the governor’s office said he would review it as soon as it was received.
“We’ve been working with them all day to address the situation,” said Jillian Schoene, spokeswoman for the governor.
The Klamath Basin is facing a drought this summer, and irrigation water from Upper Klamath Lake is restricted because of low lake levels and inflows, and below-average precipitation. Groundwater pumping permit requests jumped as irrigators sought to get water to their crops.
The water loss was noticed about 9 p.m. Tuesday during a brownout outage that cut power to Merrill and surrounding areas.
Incident Commander Monte Keady of Klamath County Fire District No. 1 said the problem likely started a few days ago because it would have taken time for the town’s water tower to be drained by regular use. He said the water loss was not related to the brownout event.
The city’s well, drilled in 1962, is more than 1,000 feet deep.
Bunyard said its pipe simply needs to be extended further down to reach ground water. To do that, he’ll screw a new pipe to the top of the existing pipe, which will elongate the pipe and reach the lower water table.
On Wednesday he ordered the 8-inch column pipe from a company in Chico and his men are supposed to truck the pipe up today. Bunyard said the new pipe should be installed by Friday afternoon, though service likely won’t be re-established until Saturday.
Until then, water will continue to be distributed for domestic and drinking purposes.
“The pumps work fine, but there’s no water,” Bunyard said.
Page Updated: Friday July 02, 2010 02:42 AM Pacific
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