GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The drought is now putting stress on some West Michigan water systems.
The city of Lowell’s water plant, which also serves Lowell Charter Township, can pump out 1.5 million gallons of water every day. The system has been pushed to the limit during recent heat and dry temperatures.
“We had one day this week that did get to 1.5 million, but we’ve been at 1.2 to 1.5, I’d say every day in the last week,” Michael Burns, Lowell city manager, said. “The water plant cannot keep up with the demand.”
Burns said the growth of Lowell Charter Township is a major factor.
In response, the city of Lowell has announced odd-even outdoor water use restrictions through Sept 30. The restrictions mean property owners can water their lawns on even days if their address ends in an even number and odd addresses on odd days.
“This has nothing to do with anything inside, drinking water, bathing washing clothes. None of those issues, it’s just lawn irrigation,” Burns said.
Burns added that the city is trying to work with the township to expand its water plant.
The city of Grand Rapids’ water system serves nearly 325,000 people, including portions of Kent and Ottawa Counties. System Manager Wayne Jernberg said the amount of water pumped out this May hadn’t been seen in quite some time.
“We’re a little bit higher than what we had two years ago in 2021 but other than that, we haven’t seen other years like this for the last eight, nine years,” Jernberg said.
The average daily demand for the Grand Rapids water system is around 36 million gallons, which includes both the summer and winter months. Currently, the demand sits at around 70 million gallons.
“Which in the summer months, we don’t typically get a lot of days over 75 million gallons,” Jernberg said.
So far, the Grand Rapids system has been able to meet current demand without any major issues. Jernberg added that over the last 20 years, Grand Rapids has only encouraged voluntary water use restrictions.
“Back in 2007, we had some voluntary usage restrictions in the far eastern portion of our system in Cascade Township. We also did that a little bit in 2012,” Jernberg said.
While restrictions aren’t expected for the Grand Rapids water system, Jernberg says alternating when you water your lawn will go a long way in helping.
“Consider sprinkling at night before you go to bed or in the evenings when you come home from work, that helps balance out some of the demands across the system,” Jernberg said.
Jernberg says the Grand Rapids water system would have to pump out around 90 million gallons of water daily before voluntary restrictions must be considered.
The city of Wyoming’s water plant, which serves 240,000 people, has also seen higher water usage. Despite the increase, Wyoming Director of Public Works Myron Erickson says they also don’t expect any restrictions at this time.