U.S. Water News Online
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Utilities that draw drinking water
from the Missouri River are making adjustments after the U.S. Army
Corps of Engineers began lowering flows on the river.
The corps was temporarily lowering river levels to comply with a
federal judge's ruling in a lawsuit brought by environmentalists
seeking to protect some endangered or threatened animals.
The main problem is that lower water levels can reduce oxygen
levels in the water, which can create taste and odor problems, said
Jack Hoffbuhr, executive director of the Denver-based American
Also, he said, certain chemicals in the water, including
fertilizers and pesticides, become more concentrated and steps must
be taken to make sure the water supply isn't affected.
He said the utilities ``just have to be very, very aware of
quality of water in the river and have to make changes to treatment
process to make sure water is safe and esthetically pleasing.''
For at least one utility, the lowered water supplies mean making
adjustments to equipment.
Missouri American Water, which supplies water to about 38,000
residents in Jefferson City, was installing a more powerful pump that
will force Missouri River water into the existing intakes, Gray said.
Company officials said they believe it's the first time such
measures have been taken to make sure the water supply can meet the
demand for everything from drinking to lawn watering and fire
The company pumps as much as 6.5 million gallons of water a day
from the river during peak use times, such as the summer.
Missouri American Water also pumps water from the Missouri River
in St. Louis County. But Tony Paraino, a spokesman for the St.
Louis-based company, said those facilities should not be affected by
the lower river levels.
In Kansas City, the municipal water department took steps last
winter to address low water levels, including sinking intake pipes
and pumps several feet deeper into the river to keep them submerged.
Ron Goold, an assistant director of the city's water services
department, said those steps are making it easier to address the
trough of lower river water making its way toward Kansas City.
Besides measures taken several months ago, he said the department is
inspecting its lower pumps to make sure they are operable.
``We don't expect any major impact by the proposed lowering,''
Other utilities didn't expect the lowered water levels to present
a major challenge.
Doug Drummey, general manager for the Council Bluffs Water Works,
said the utility expects the river stage in Council Bluffs to drop
about 1 foot to 2 feet as part of the lowering of the Missouri.
Release levels of water have been much lower in the past, he said.
``This isn't any problem at all,'' he said.
Lower Missouri River levels will not affect the Omaha, Neb.,
area's water supply, said Mari Matulka, a spokeswoman for the
Metropolitan Utilities District.
The river levels will still be high enough for it to pump what it
needs from the Missouri River, Matulka said.
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