By Will McClure
For the first time since June of 2010, Lake Stamford has reached 100% capacity as of July 10. With the most recent rainfall making up the majority of the water level rising along with the small contribution from the pumping from California Creek, the lake has risen from having only about a year’s worth of water supply left to its current state. City Manager Alan Plumlee commented on the current state of the lake, noting how wonderful it is to see the lake at such at high level. When he last visited the lake, then at 92% full, Plumlee said that he saw several boaters on the lake and saw how the lake helps bring people to Stamford to enjoy the lake for recreational purposes. While it does help on the recreational side, the main area of interest is still the availability of water that the lake will now continue to provide. Rainfall contributed to most of the increase of water that allowed the 51,000 acre foot lake to reach 100%, while the California Creek pumping has only contributed 1900 acre feet or 622 million gallons of water into the lake, which would still be filling the lake if the rain had not arrived. Plumlee stated that if Stamford does not receive any additional significant rainfall, there would be about 6 years worth of water in the lake, but with the abundance of rainfall and the future unknown at this point, it can be certain that Stamford will have water for the foreseeable future.
With the knowledge that water will be readily available, the focus is now on the state of the water pipes and water usage in Stamford. It was back in August of 2014 where the first major break occurred at the water treatment plant that resulted in dirty water which was followed by a major pipe burst a few months later. When asked what has been done since the last major break, Plumlee stated that while no new pipes have been replaced as of yet, the city will apply for a grant where, if accepted, the city will be able to begin replacing water lines. Until a decision is announced, preparations have been made in case another major break happens before lines can be replaced.
“We have looked at the way we build what we call our barrel or patches on that line and because that line was smaller than what we thought and now that we know that, the way that we build it is we build a patch, but it is not complete. It is complete whenever we determine what diameter the pipe is and we can cut the ends out of it at that time,” Plumlee said. The previous process during the most recent break resulted in long hours and residents without water for a 24 hour period while the patch was being built. Patches had been made for the larger lines, but were not ready for the smaller line, which was the site of the break. When the break occurred, a patch had to be built overnight to accommodate the smaller line, slowing down the process of fixing the line. With the new preparations in place, a patch can now be cut in as little as ten minutes in order to fit the needs of the line, reducing the amount of time by six to eight hours. Plumlee stated that it was suggested to build several patches to be prepared in case of a break, which has been done.
When discussing the replacing of water lines, Plumlee stated that the city is trying to receive grants in order to raise the funds needed to replace the lines. While something could have come together in 2014, Plumlee stated that the city’s “score” was lowered because of the need to build a new raw water storage tank, a required need when the former tank’s roof began to collapse. A grant was given to build the tank, but lowered the “score” and prevented the city from receiving any further grants for the rest of the year. Once a year has passed, the city will begin applying for more grants when the “score” is raised for Stamford. If the grants are accepted, Plumlee stated that the goal is to begin replacing the pipes at the water tower and work out from there. This topic brought up another concern that Stamford residents have been asking for: the fixing of the roads in Stamford.
“We don’t want to fix the roads until we put new pipe underneath the road,” Plumlee said. “We don’t want to fix the road and then have to dig it up because we have a water leak under it. We are trying to patch them, but we don’t want to go in and do a complete repaving job whenever you have a water main underneath the street that’s sixty years old and you’re going to be digging that thing up.” Plumlee went on to say that once the water lines have been replaced underneath these roads that need repair, then plans can be put forth to repair the roads. However, no decisions will be made until that time.
When asked about the current conditions with the water’s taste, with reports coming in about the water having the aftertaste of dirt, Plumlee said that they have no idea where the taste is coming from, but the city is working to find out what is causing the issues with the water. Plumlee said that the numbers are good at the plant and that fire hydrants are being flushed to try and possibly fix the issue. Plumlee also stated that nothing has been added to the water to try and correct the issue, since they have not discovered the source of the issue. The only thing that had changed in the last week was the switching of pumping from Lake Stamford to College Lake, but once again nothing can be confirmed at this time.
Even with the ongoing issues and preparations of how water is distributed in Stamford, it is safe to say that with the lake at full capacity that there will still be plenty of water to go around for the foreseeable future. While nothing is for certain for the future of Stamford water, it is wonderful to see the lake at 100% capacity. Like City Manager Alan Plumlee said himself, we are thankful for the rain and that the lake is full once again after five years.