By Timothy Cox
ROCKFORD -- Monday's deluge of rain probably saved village officials from implementing emergency measures to curb water usage by residents.
The long dry spell has caused many residents to start regularly watering their lawns and gardens. That has led to a drastic run-up in water use, which is taxing the town's water plant's ability to keep up with demand, Village Administrator Jeff Long said Tuesday.
Long was prepared to ask council to activate the terms of an ordinance approved during the drought-stricken summer of 1988 that bans unnecessary water use by residents. The ban was implemented briefly that summer and has not been used since. Monday's rains should ease the demand for water, he said.
The town's water plant produces about 190,000 gallons of treated water daily. In recent days, demand has reached 250,000, the absolute upper limit of the plant's capacity, Long said.
The water crisis is nothing like in 1988, when the water table was dropping and the village's wells were hard-pressed to pump enough water. That is not the case this time around, Long said. Groundwater levels are fine; the only problem is producing enough water to meet demand, he said. Also this week, Rockford council members approved an indemnification agreement that people who rent the village's shelterhouse or community building must sign. The agreement holds the village harmless against any potential claims from renters. The new language will be incorporated into the existing rental agreement.
"I can't believe it wasn't in there before," council member Nick Sell said.
Councilman Keith Rutledge asked if the agreement would prevent the town from being sued.
There are no guarantees, attorney Judy Koesters said, but the agreement gives the town "one more layer of protection."
Council members also agreed to award the contract for salt for the water plant's softening system to Cargill. The company was the lowest bidder at $54.13 per ton. The town uses about 1,000 tons of salt annually.