Hamilton will double and possibly triple its water sales to Carthage, Ill., in the next week or so.
Council members unanimously agreed Monday to the increase after making sure the water plant and employees could keep up with the jump in demand.
Carthage buys 40,000 gallons of water per day now, but intends to buy 80,000 to 120,000 gallons per day until Carthage Lake is replenished by rainfall. The inland city is dependent on the lake for its water. It is depleted because of the long-running drought in the Midwest.
“I think we figured each 20,000 gallons extra will add 15 to 20 minutes to (our) day,” said Tim Schilson, superintendent of the Hamilton Water and Sewer Department. “(With 80,000 gallons), about an hour will be added to the day, plus chemicals.”
In light of the financial impact the extra water bills will have on Carthage, Hamilton council members approved a 32-cent discount per 1,000 gallons during the water emergency. When Carthage had a water shortage in 2006-2007, it bought water at the same discounted price.
To date, Carthage has been paying Hamilton $4.21 per gallon for an average cost of about $5,000 per month based on 40,000 gallons of water use. Factoring in the discount, Carthage will pay $3.89 per gallon.
“The situation is that we’re almost as low as we were in 2006 when we started buying more water from Hamilton,” Carthage Mayor Jim Nightingale said Tuesday morning.
In addition to its shrinking volume of available water, Carthage Lake water underwent adverse affects from a string of 100-degree days this summer, according to Nightingale.
“We also changed chemicals at the water plant this summer and weren’t using carbon when we got caught with the big algae bloom,” he said. “The lake water was close to 90 degrees. We treated it, but when the water got into the system with the new chemicals, we got this taste and odor. We had to flush the system twice.”
Nightingale said the department needed to use more of the chemical, a lesson it learned after the fact.
He believes Carthage likely will have to buy water through the winter months.
“It may be spring before we get more rain,”Nightingale said. “We’re 10 to 15 inches short, so we’ll need more than that before we get runoff into the lake.”
As of Tuesday, Carthage water department personnel were making changes to the city system in order to receive the increased water volume from Hamilton.
“We’ll try to start taking some water next week,” Nightingale added.
He will attend a meeting of the Hamilton Water Department at 6 p.m. today at City Hall to work out details.