Even with the weekend’s weather, the water level at Lake Gladewater is well below average, putting the community well within a Stage One Water Conservation situation.
“According to the city’s drought plan, when we’re four feet over our highest intake we’re supposed to go to ‘voluntary conservation,’” says Gladewater’s public works chief, Al Harrison. At that point – i.e. right now – the lake’s already four feet below its typical level.
At Stage One, the city’s asking residents to conserve, to reduce their water usage as much as possible until enough precipitation boosts the level back toward normal.
“Everything’s voluntary right now,” Harrison repeated.
Keeping a close eye on forecasts, “What we’re hoping is people north of us get rain and it flows into Glade Creek then into the lake.
“We’ve got to come up at least a foot and maintain that depth for two weeks to get out of this.”
If the situation doesn’t turn and the average water level falls to 36 inches above the first intake for the water treatment plant, City Hall will announce mandatory conservation measures. They’re not particularly onerous, but they’re also just a beginning.
“You don’t wash your car. You don’t fill up your pool,” Harrison explained. “We don’t do flushing of water hydrants,” and restrictions will tighten if the level continues to fall.
In the meantime, the city’s water quality is fine, and there’s plenty of margin before serious issues arise for Gladewater’s primary water source.
“Our lowest water intake is 25 feet” below the average level of the lake, Harrison noted, just shy of 300 feet above sea level. “We’re far from a problem. We’re still good on water quality.
“We’d have to be in Stage Four before we’d have a really hard time keeping our water good.”
On Friday, Harrison and water operator Wendy Emmel took a boat out on the lake to inspect the intakes themselves. At that point, prior to Sunday night’s storm, the level was at 37 inches over the top intake.
Beyond water quality and conservation, with the lake’s level so low, boat ramp users should be doubly-cautious.
“Yes, they just have to be careful because their tires can go off the end of the ramp,” Harrison said. “We do suggestion caution. It’s at your own risk.”