The lack of precipitation in the area has forced city officials to keep a close eye on Jacksonville’s water supply over the past few months.
Over the weekend, the city’s water department drained a small portion of Lake Jacksonville to combat the effects of the dry conditions on local water.
Jacksonville Mayor Andy Ezard says while taking some water from the lake is relatively common, this year they’ve had to take a bit more than usual.
“I think everybody understands that we need that rain, and I know it’s on the forecast, but we’ve been closely monitoring our supply all summer. With the cooler weather coming, things should get better, but we’ll keep up with things and keep a close eye on them. Unfortunately we have had to draw down Lake Jacksonville more than we normally have in the past. We’re still okay, but we just hope for rain,” says Ezard.
Mayor Ezard explains the various ways in which the city can go about combating the lack of rain.
“It’s just keeping a close eye on the water levels in our (water) towers, and if we have to draw more water from our aquifers in Naples, we’ll do that, and also take from Lake Jacksonville. We haven’t had to do that a whole lot in the past, but this has been an extraordinary summer as far as lack of rain. Our staff is very cognizant of keeping our waters at the right levels. We really think that, after this warm weather streak is over, we’ll replenish it with a good fall and winter,” explains Ezard.
He says that, while it’s come close, the city has decided to not place any water restrictions on local residents.
“We’ve discussed (imposing water restrictions) a couple of times when we’ve gotten close, and that’s why we’ve determined to go ahead and drain part of Lake Jacksonville so we wouldn’t have to put on any water restrictions. We’ve been close, but we decided to go ahead and let folks use their water because we’ve felt comfortable. There were some times this summer where we talked and discussed it, but we decided to go ahead with the water we have in the system,” says Ezard.
The city of Jacksonville has three water sources in Lake Jacksonville, Lake Mauvaistarre and the Illinois River at Naples. While area residents may notice lower water levels at Lake Jacksonville, it will be closed for the winter in about two weeks. The city is hoping for wetter conditions in the coming season to replenish what they’ve removed from Lake Jacksonville.