Pine and Strawberry water users are rejoicing over plentiful water supplies and a conservation stage that has not dropped below “1” or “no restrictions” all summer long.
Having sufficient supplies is a rarity in the two towns that have suffered in past years from severe water restrictions, hauling charges and complete outages.
Most often in the past, the crowds of visitors that traditionally descended on the two mountain towns on Memorial Day and July 4th weekends deplete water supplies, elevating conservation measures to their most restrictive levels.
But following this year’s two summer holidays, conservation levels remained at stage 1.
That sent tongues wagging in watering holes, the Ponderosa Market and the post office where water users celebrated the lack of restrictions almost as if they were clutching a winning lottery ticket.
On July 5, storage levels in the two towns dropped to 84 percent, reflecting the huge numbers of visitors in town for an arts and crafts festival and to camp, fish and enjoy the cool mountain air. By the following day, water levels recovered to 94 percent.
Monday, levels in the Pine and Strawberry tanks were at 97 percent.
In fact, the levels have been at stage 1 since the district purchased Pine and Strawberry water companies in October 2009 from former owner Brooke Utilities.
Pine Strawberry Water Improvement District Board President Bill Haney, member Tom Weeks and water users are praising the operations staff, led by Dean Shaffer, for the improvements.
On a community Web site, board member Ron Calderon wrote, “Dean has improved our system and has fixed many problems that were wrong with the system.”
Immediately after the district took over the water companies from Brooke, Shaffer and his crew began making improvements that included refurbishing older, shallow wells that the previous owners had allegedly allowed to fall into disrepair.
In April, Haney acknowledged the improvements saying, “The wells are yielding capacities that haven’t been seen in years.”
Also contributing to the upsurge in supplies was the unusually wet winter.
The moisture, however, has not spared some surrounding small communities served by Brooke, including Mesa del Caballo where the conservation stage has been “4” on two separate occasions.