No rain in October, no rain in forecast, water still holding steady

Hard to believe, but we’ll take it

Four water systems serving the county cautiously report no problems with their water supply so far, in response to The Blount Countian’s spot check for approaching water problems in the face of historic drought. No rain was recorded in October in Blount County, and practically none in September, following a late spring and summer among the driest on record. Ponds and creeks are dry all over the county, with rivers down to a trickle of their former selves.

Ironic as it may seem, thanks are in order on two counts – thanks that water systems so far are holding up with no mandatory water restrictions in effect, though all water managers report that usage volume is down as people seem to be instinctively observing commonsense water use habits. On the second count, thanks for common sense and for people willing to use it.

Snead, Pine Bluff, Oneonta, and Cleveland were the systems polled Tuesday. Jeff Whited, water manager at Snead, reported no official restrictions in place. Water level in the well has receded about a foot over the summer, he said, but is holding so far at that level.

Pine Bluff general manager Kim Vaughn said there has been no change since the last report three weeks ago. Voluntary water use restrictions are in effect as subscribers have been asked to use water only for necessary reasons.

“As of right now, we’re holding steady,” said Oneonta general manager Rodney McCain. “The dam on Calvert Prong we refurbished last year seems to be helping us. There are no official restrictions in place. We’ve just asked people to be reasonable and apply common sense in using water. Usage has gone down, so they seem to be doing it. As of now, we’re OK.”

Water department manager Steve Pass at Cleveland, where wells have faltered in past droughts, said “We’re still buying water and pumping away. Wells are still fine, but you never can tell. In past droughts, they’d be fine one day, and all of a sudden, we’d be in trouble the next. People have stopped watering their lawns. That helps. No sense in watering them when they’re already dead,” he said. Pass said trees and shrubs are showing drought stress, especially pine saplings. “They may be gone for good.” he said