While Huntley isn’t banning outside watering, officials are asking residents to think about conservation in light of the huge volume of water — 5 million gallons on one day alone this week — that is being pumped.
The village determines that the base amount of daily water use — the amount needed for things like laundry — during the winter is 1.5 million gallons, Public Works Director Jim Schwartz said. This week, the village calculated water use between 4.5 million and 5 million gallons daily, he said.
“It’s a tremendous increase in water and it’s all outside usage,” he said.
A bit of rain fell Friday but it did not amount to any significant rainfall. Huntley Major Charles Sass issued a release this week asking residents to limit outside watering.
“The current system can become strained in trying to keep up with the excessive watering due to the heat and lack of rain,” Sass said.
Huntley’s water pumps are running 20 hours a day, he said at Thursday’s Village Board meeting.
“Hopefully everybody will conserve,” Sass said. “The grass isn't dead. The grass will come back to life once we get some rain.”
Outside watering restrictions remain yellow, which allows watering from 6 to 9 a.m. and from 6 to 9 p.m. on odd/even days. Anyone who violates the restrictions faces a ticket with a fine ranging from $50 to $500.
The yellow watering restriction has remained in effect for about six years, Schwartz said. The color levels are green, which means no restriction, yellow and red, which signifies a ban on outside watering, he said.
Huntley is not ready to change the restriction level to red. However, if the hot, dry weather persists, Schwartz worries whether the village’s system will be able to keep up with demand.
Huntley has five deep wells and five elevated storage tanks. The pumps are running about 20 hours a day, he said.
“Operating at the maximum is not a good place to be, it’s like driving your car at full throttle for weeks on end,” he said. “At some point, it will fail you. You don’t want your community water system to fail.”
“If a pumps fails, we will definitely go to red,” Schwartz said.
Next year, Schwartz wants to push for restricting outside water use to two hours in the morning and two hours at night. He also anticipates McHenry County will adopt a countywide watering restriction policy.
Other communities have set restrictions, too. Algonquin went to level yellow last week, he said. Algonquin also has a surcharge rate for water consumption from late May to early September, according to its website. Bill rates are tripled for homes or businesses that use more than 18,000 gallons per month, the site states.
Huntley is doing its part to conserve water. The village has been treating sewage water and running it out to Sun City Huntley for use to irrigate its golf course and common areas.
“We are running over 1 million gallons and using it for irrigation rather than using our potable water system,” he said.
Purifying sewage water to use as potable water is something states dealing with droughts, like California, already have started doing, Schwartz said. The water is treated and safe to drink, people just have to get over the mindset of where the water comes from, he said.
The bottom line is everyone needs to be thinking about water conservation, even if the restrictions is only yellow at this point and Illinois does not have to purify sewage water, he said.
“We have to do something,” Schwartz said. “We can’t continue down this path. The revenues are great but at the end of the day, we do want to conserve water.”