BY KRISTI REED
The City of Winder's water supply could be tapped out as early as 2015, according to utilities director Wesley Skinner.
With the current number of lots available in Barrow County and the projected increase in population over the next few years, demand is expected to exceed supply sometime between 2015 and 2020. If drought conditions persist, the water system could reach maximum capacity by 2010.
In order to avoid a water crisis, city planners are taking steps now to insure that adequate supplies of water are available in the future.
Currently, Winder has permits which allow the city to withdraw five million gallons per day from Mulberry River, five million gallons per day from the Bear Creek Reservoir and one million gallons per day from Yargo Lake.
In drought years, the available water is reduced from 11 million gallons per day to around six million gallons per day. The city's current usage is five million per day.
Skinner said he and his staff are working on several short and long term goals to increase the amount of water available for the city's water system. Several projects are currently underway including:
• a yield study on Yargo Lake to determine if the city's withdrawal permit can be modified.
• submitting a new withdrawal permit for the Mulberry River to take advantage of the one million gallons per day of treated water that the city is pumping into the river.
• looking for additional water sources.
• proceeding with the city pond reservoir planning which includes grant submissions seeking funds to help increase capacity at the reservoir to at least 100 million gallons of storage.
• preliminary work at the Cedar Creek property to determine if a reservoir can be constructed on the site. According to Skinner, early indications are that the city could build enough storage capacity for 500 million gallons of water.
• line work from May Street to Rose Hill Cemetery. The city is replacing an eight-inch line with a 24-inch line to help handle increased water flow from future reservoirs.
• "We are looking at long term reservoir solutions," Skinner said. "We have several areas that we want to explore that would be ten to fifteen years down the road at the earliest."