The Macon Water Authority

790 Second Street • Macon, GA 31202-0108 • (478) 464-5600

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Despite drought and climate change, MWA drinking water supply secure

Nov 14, 2011 by Dr. Chris Wood

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Despite an extended drought and record temperatures this summer, the Authority’s Javors Lucas Lake continued to provide a water supply that enabled the Amerson Water Treatment Plant to meet peak customer demand.

With a severe drought and some of the hottest days and months on record in Georgia this past spring and summer, one would think the Macon Water Authority (MWA) struggled to maintain adequate reservoir storage and drinking water supply. However, that was the furthest from the truth, says MWA Executive Director Tony Rojas.

“We had one of the hottest months on record in May, with rainfall averages well below what we had last year, yet our reservoir continued to provide for drinking water production, storage, and distribution that were virtually unaffected,” says Rojas. “Some have wondered how that could be, but proper planning and investments in upgrades have kept us out of danger in terms of our water supply. And we’re not done yet.”

Rojas is referring to continued efforts by the Authority to increase its operational efficiency, citing the current water audit that has industry advisors assisting the MWA staff in collecting data on water loss and developing strategies to save water within the system, independent of wise water use by MWA customers.

Rainfall has been scarce thus far this year, with June’s rainfall total nearly 3 inches less than June of 2010, and May’s rainfall almost 4 inches below the amount from May of last year. However, MWA drinking water production and distribution continued without incident. While Javors Lucas Lake has reached its lowest level (365.44 feet) since December of 2007, there are still over 4 billion gallons of raw water storied in this reservoir. The Authority now awaits the rainy winter months that should naturally recharge the water levels in Javors Lucas Lake in time for the peak demands of next year’s spring and summer months.

One of the largest investments from the Authority’s current Capital Improvement Plan is the $10 million earmarked for constructing a new, auxiliary intake on the Ocmulgee River for withdrawing raw water for treatment in the Frank C. Amerson, Jr. Water Treatment Facility. This new intake will be installed at a lower elevation next to the existing river intake, which is also slated for upgrades as part of this project.

A related capital project having a positive impact on the health of Javors Lucas Lake’s water levels is the investment the Authority made to install variable frequency drive pumps at the river intake. Thanks to these more technologically advanced pumps, the Authority can withdrawal water more efficiently, regardless of water levels in the Ocmulgee River.

“We are very fortunate to have a board with the vision and willingness to invest in facility upgrades and drought management practices, and a staff capable of implementing innovative ideas,” adds Rojas. “As long as we continue to manage the system properly and look for ways to improve our efficiencies, our customers will have safe and plentiful drinking water, regardless of adverse weather or drought conditions.”

Media contact:
Chris Wood, Ph.D.
P:770-757-1681
E: jcwood@uga.edu

Tagged: mwa water supply, drought management

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