Water well levels dropped significantly during the summer of 2008, according to an August report by the Big Bear City Community Services District Water Department.
The water level dropped to nearly 28 feet, 7 feet below the CSD’s stage one water emergency conservation trigger. But unlike years past, CSD water superintendent Tim Moran says it is not a measure of great concern. “We recently brought deep low fluoride wells online, so we are in a lot better shape,” Moran said.
The CSD started pumping well no. 8 on Sept. 25, which can provide 550 gallons a minute to the system through its fluoride-blending process. The result is a 19 percent increase in production.
At the same time there is a decrease in demand. “We are about 7 percent down from last year,” Moran said.
That’s good news for customers. Stage one water restrictions are geared to reduce output about 5 to 10 percent.
Moran believes CSD customers are conserving water without being forced to abide by restrictions on the books.
Retired CSD water superintendent Gary Keller believes timing also plays a key role in avoiding water restrictions.
“A lot of times that is done in the summer when the numbers are down in the spring,” Keller said. “You really want to see the effects of the winter season (on the aquifer) before making those decisions.”
The CSD Water Department services 6,000 connections within an eight-square-mile service area. Sugarloaf and portions of Whispering Forest and Erwin Lake are not included in the CSD water service area.
Department operations are supported by four reservoirs with a total capacity of 6.25 million gallons, 73 miles of main lines, 418 fire hydrants and 1,600 gate valves. The water system also supports fire suppression activities with water flows of 500 to more than 1,500 gallons per minute.
The addition of well no. 8 into the mix provides a cushion the CSD didn’t have a year ago or in 2005, the last time water restrictions were put into place. The CSD is working on a revised water master plan that is expected to change the way the agency determines water emergencies. “We want to take a two-pronged approach,” Moran said. The department would monitor fluoride levels in its blending wells and utilize high levels of fluoride as one of the triggers for water conservation. The well level would still be used as part of the equation.
The idea is to see how the new deeper wells affect the overall system including water levels, Keller said.
Another part of the equation will be to look at consumer demand. “I think the customers have gone into good watering habits,” Moran said.
If customers continue to conserve without being penalized, there will be less need to enact water alerts, he said.
Then there is the timing. “We always see some recovery in the groundwater in the winter,” Moran said.