Poweshiek Water Association issues mandatory water conservation order

Poweshiek Water Association’s Dysart water tower pictured on July 4. PHOTO BY RUBY F. MCALLISTER

Last year in June, Poweshiek Water Association issued a voluntary conserve water order for both the Amana and Tama Systems after experiencing peak water usage and a decreasing water source supply. The volunteer order worked as water usage fell to a sustainable amount.

Since that time, the water sources have continued to weaken due to drought, all the while PWA has been actively seeking new sources of water in both the Amana Treatment Plant and Tama Treatment Plant areas.

The existing water source at Tama can now only produce 1750 gallons per minute (gpm) compared to 2000 gpm of a year ago.

At the Amana facility, which is a much smaller plant and system than Tama, PWA will not be able to sustainably provide the 150,000-170,000 gallons each day as was the case last year.

With work beginning last July at both treatment plant locations, three good water source areas were identified near the Tama Plant with three new wells scheduled to be operational by June 1, 2024.

At the Amana Treatment Plant, ground water has remained elusive but PWA has continued studying the geological formation. Because of the reduced availability of ground water for immediate use, PWA upgraded their voluntary water conservation order to a mandatory one last week for their customers in the Tama and Amana systems. Those customers who are affected in Benton, Iowa, Keokuk, Mahaska, Poweshiek, and Tama counties received letters of notification last week.

PWA has already installed the 4,500 feet of raw water line to the future site of the three new wells near the Tama Treatment Plant. Cahoy Pump Service, the company drilling the wells, is scheduled to begin work sometime in April in order to meet the June 1 deadline.

The 14 wells that currently are used at Tama have pumps sitting as low as possible, which is causing some taste issues with our water. The water is still tested daily and is safe to drink.

The goal is to get sustainable flows back to near 2000 gpm with the new and old wells combined before June 1, giving PWA customers in both systems some relief and hopefully a return to the voluntary water conservation order. Rain, at any time and more than just a sprinkle, would also help the situation.

At the Amana Plant location, PWA has been working with a hydrologist and Collier Geophysics, who uses high resolution electrical resistivity tomography (ERT) to locate potential alluvial water sources, but the ground hasn’t given promising prospects to this point. The Amana Society worked with PWA to clear a path near the Iowa River this winter and Collier came to test that stretch of soil the week of February 26. The hope is to find some good news from the data when PWA staff meet on March 21. A drill company is poised to drill test holes on anything that is promising.

PWA also explored the option of purchasing some wells that were already existing, but there is some question on water quality from them. When PWA does find the necessary water, even while working at a rapid pace, it will take some time to get the correct design established, go through the proper channels to get the permits and then get the wells constructed along in addition to the raw water line to the treatment plant.

PWA will keep seeking options until new water sources are established. After the wells are drilled at Tama some additional water may be supplemented to the Amana System if the existing wells at Tama don’t degrade further in the next 80 days.

Updates to the mandatory water conservation order, water availability and the projects associated with the drought can be found on PWA’s Facebook page and on their webpage, www.poweshiekwater.com


To view the full Water Conservation Policy, go to www.poweshiekwater.com

1. Use private wells, if available, for livestock, outside and ag use, and your home if the water is safe for human consumption.

2. Outdoor watering and irrigation is prohibited, except as follows: Watering or irrigation of flower and vegetable gardens, trees and shrubs less than four years old, and new seeding or sod is permitted once a week with an application not to exceed 1-inch. Watering shall only be done between the hours of 8:00 p.m. to 8:00 a.m.

3. Car washing is prohibited, except at commercial establishments that provide that service.

4. No rural water shall be used to fill private swimming pools, children’s wading pools, reflecting pools or any other outdoor pool or pond.

5. No rural water shall be used to wash streets, parking lots, driveways, sidewalks or building exteriors.

6. No rural water shall be used for nonessential cleaning of commercial and industrial equipment, machinery, and interior spaces.

7. Water shall be served at restaurants only upon the request of the customer.

8. Agricultural Spraying using Rural Water may need to cease.

Priority of usage if additional measures are needed will be:

1: Human Consumption

2: Livestock consumption

3: Ag use for spraying

It is highly likely that ag spraying in the Amana and/or Tama system will need to get water from a private well or a community that is not served by PWA near, on or after April 1 in order to ensure that rural water is available to humans and livestock for drinking within these systems. (We will be treating wells between now and then, but are not anticipating to give us sustainable increased flows.) Please start your planning now! This act will make the largest and most positive impact to keeping the system in order so all living things have drinkable water until at least June 1.

Once the new wells are established at Tama, PWA will re-evaluate available water at that time. It is important that those of you that use 10,000 gallons a month or less for spraying follow this order. We cannot have our water source or the treatment process overtaxed.

**Surcharges and/or premium rates may apply to those that forgo the mandate. The full water conservation policy can be viewed at www.poweshiekwater.com.