Water use in Doerun is still restricted - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Water use in Doerun is still restricted

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The water tower in Doerun.  The level in the tower went down a few weeks ago when one of the pumps ran dry. The water tower in Doerun. The level in the tower went down a few weeks ago when one of the pumps ran dry.
A faucet runs at Sheila's Restaurant in Doerun.  Water pressure is down in the city. A faucet runs at Sheila's Restaurant in Doerun. Water pressure is down in the city.
The water fountain in the Doerun Town Square.  The fountain was turned off when one of the town pumps ran dry. The water fountain in the Doerun Town Square. The fountain was turned off when one of the town pumps ran dry.

Kathy Casteel is from Hartsfield, but she's worked at Sheila's Restaurant in Doerun for more than two decades.

She sees a lot of water run through their faucets.

"For preparing our food, for washing our dishes, for making our tea and stuff like that," she said.

But a few weeks ago, the city came out with a surprising order.

Casteel said, "it was kind of scary to start with"

One of the two wells that this city of about 900 uses ran dry.  The second well, which was drilled to a greater depth than the first when it was installed in 1956, wasn't much better off.

John Walters, a Public Service Technician for the City of Doerun said, "when that pump was running there was two feet of water on the top of it."

So they had to take some drastic measures.

Walters said, "no outdoor watering, no washing of cars, no filling of swimming pools, no recreational use of water."

Even the water fountain in the town square had to be turned off.  Today, a temporary pump sits in place of the old one, but the city is a few days away from a more permanent solution.

"Go ahead and pull the temporary pump that's in the well and go ahead and put a permanent submergible pump back in there," said Walters.

The wells in Doerun go back a few years, but in the time that they've been around the water table here has dropped dramatically.

Walters said, "it's a 55 foot drop since 1956."

Part of the problem for Doerun is geography.  As water flows towards it, it gets taken up by other equally thirsty users.

Mark Masters from the Flint River Water Planning and Policy Center said, "as you work your way southeast of Albany, which is where Doerun is, those declines are a little bit more pronounced."

But the age of municipal systems like this one could become an issue if the water table continues to drop in the years to come.  Pumps that were in deep water could become increasingly exposed.

"I would certainly say it's an infrastructure wake up call for a number of municipalities," said Masters.

While city officials say that the quality of the water didn't drop during this crisis, the story about Doerun's disappearing water is one that other places would do well to learn.

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