The drought that threatened the area’s water supply the two past summers and heightened conservation efforts is officially over, City of Wichita officials announced on Friday.
Cheney Lake, the city’s primary water source, reached full capacity in the early hours of Thursday, thanks to recent rains that have filled the lake, raising the water level to full capacity from 73.6% on July 29. Earlier this year, the lake was as low as 58% capacity, forcing City officials to encourage conservation efforts through a media campaign, a rebate program and other measures aimed at extending the area’s water supply.
On Friday, City officials thanked residents who participated in conservation efforts, saying water customers have used 20 percent less water (2.7 billion gallons) this year compared to 2012. Some reductions are due to the rain, but City records show that customers used less water even when rainfall and temperatures were similar to last year. If conservation measures continue through the annual irrigation season, the 2013 period may record as the lowest-use year since at least the 1980s.
“We are very grateful for how strongly water customers responded to drought conditions and water conservation appeals,” Alan King, the City’s Public Works and Utilities Director said. “The weather has helped but residents made a major contribution to helping preserve Wichita’s water supply.”
King added that the water conservation program continues, because conservation awareness and measures benefit the community even when there is not a drought. For example, water conservation efforts protect the City’s other major water source, the underground Equus Beds aquifer. They also help save public funds by delaying future water supply projects. City government will continue its own water conservation measures and city officials are encouraging others to do the same. Conservation tips and information about the rebate program are available at www.savewichitawater.com
. To date, 682 customers have participated in the rebates program, totaling $86,778.