“We actually have excess water supply,” said John Walton, director of marketing for LTRWC.
Brent Traughber, system manger of LTRWC, said there are usually two problems that contribute to a shortage- a decrease in the raw water supply and plant capacity.
As for the raw water supply, Walton said, the Cumberland River is not dry. LTRWC draws all of its water from Cumberland through a 36-inch pipe that runs from the river to the plant in Guthrie.
The water goes into a 28 million gallon lake at the plant and then goes into tanks where it is chlorinated. Having the lake means there is always excess water at the plant.
As for the plant capacity, Traughber said that is not a problem. LTRWC has the capacity to run 10 million gallons of water a day and they have room to grow if needed. Right now, they are running about 5 million gallons a day.
“People ten to 15 years ago had the foresight to build a plant that would accommodate many people and be ready,” Walton said, referring to the formation of LTRWC. “We are very fortunate that people looked ahead.”
“At this point we're not anticipating any problems,” Walton added.
Meanwhile, places like Bowling Green and Warren County are in a water shortage alert, meaning residents are only allowed to use water for outside uses on certain days. Anyone caught violating these restrictions could receive a fine.
In Franklin, Tenn., water customers have also been told to cut back on water usage outside. The city's web site warns residents that repeat violations will result in termination of services.
Walton said he understands why so many places are having to issue restrictions on water usage.
“I've never seen it this dry,” Walton said. “It was pretty dry in ‘88 and ‘99, but I've never seen it like this.”
Walton recalled that during the drought in 1999, he was serving as mayor of Elkton and he had to close down some industries because of the water shortage. That is not a position you want to be in, Walton said.
As many nearby water systems are experiencing shortages, some are contacting LTRWC to ask about the possibility of getting water through Logan Todd, if only as a back-up supply.
“People are calling us and inquiring,” Traughber said.
The drought is not just affecting south central Kentucky.
While the midwest is experiencing flooding, much of the South is in a drought with no end in sight. The situation has hurt the water supply in many regions and has made raw water a hot commodity.
Evidence of this has recently been seen in the Carolinas. In June, the Attorney General for South Carolina sued North Carolina because of plans to siphon millions of gallons of water from the Catawba River, which provides drinking water to both states.
As drought conditions worsen, there may be other cases similar to that one.
LTRWC draws water from the Cumberland River, which begins in Kentucky, runs through Tennessee and then flows back into Kentucky. Traughber said he does not anticipate such problems here as they already have permits in Tennessee and have followed all regulations regarding such things.
As water becomes a more precious commodity, prices for it are going up.
Walton said he knows people were not happy earlier this year when water rates went up, but that is happening all over and at least LTRWC customers don't have to worry about a water shortage.
“We have good drinking water,” Walton said, “and a good water supply.”