Rain helps, but Southland still on water watch
BY SUSAN DEMAR LAFFERTY email@example.com June 18, 2012 5:10PM
Gusty winds blow water around from the power washer as workers clean the traffic signals at 153rd and West Avenue in Orland Park, Illinois, Monday, June 18, 2012. | Joseph P. Meier~Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 18, 2012 8:25PM
Saturday night’s rain eased the strain on municipal water systems, but Southland officials still are closely monitoring water usage as high daily temperatures are expected to remain in the 90s this week.
The dozen Southland towns that get Lake Michigan water via Oak Lawn’s delivery system all have summer restrictions that limit outdoor watering to between 7 and 11 a.m. and 7 and 11 p.m., on odd or even dates corresponding with residents’ addresses.
So far, they have not had to restrict the flow of water beyond that, but Mokena has asked its residents to voluntarily reduce water usage by one-third.
Steve Barrett, Oak Lawn’s public works director, said the system pumped 53 million gallons on Saturday and 41 million gallons Sunday.
“The rain helped somewhat. But we are watching it very closely,” he said. “So far, so good. But we could use a few rainy days.”
Without it, the benefit from Saturday’s rain won’t last long.
“It’s hot and windy today. Things are drying out pretty quickly,” Tinley Park public works director Dale Schepers said Monday.
Tinley Park’s system, which gets water from Oak Lawn and then pumps it to Mokena, New Lenox and Orland Hills in addition to its own residents and businesses, used 18 million gallons Saturday and 12 million Sunday — the latter a 33 percent drop over the recent average.
In normal conditions, residents in these towns collectively average 9.4 million gallons a day.
“We’re taking it one day at a time,” Schepers said.
The National Weather Service is calling for high temperatures in the mid-90s through Wednesday, with a 40 percent of rain Wednesday night into Thursday.
“Rain in the middle of the week will certainly help,” Schepers said. “We’ll be able to stay the course with our current conservation efforts.”
Meanwhile, he said, the Tinley Park Fire Department is making evening rounds to make sure residents are complying with the water usage restrictions and educating them on the need to be reasonable with their water use.