MEEKER I Since reports of record-breaking Meeker water usage came to light last month, questions have ensued.
Sixty-two million gallons of water were pumped from the Meeker wells in June, which translates to 800 gallons per day (GPD) per capita, a figure some have questioned because it is exponentially higher than the national average, which is 80-100 GPD, according to the United States Geographical Service (USGS).
Usage breaks down into several categories: bulk water, residential/business, and a limited group of water users whose properties are along the 6 mile supply line from the town wells on County Road 4. When the town wells were installed in the 1970s, those property owners were granted unmetered, unconditional water rights in perpetuity in exchange for letting the town supply line pass through their land.
There are 121 bulk water customers accessing the town’s bulk water load-out to haul water for livestock, cisterns, etc. During the gas and oil boom, as much as 3 million gallons went through the bulk system in a month, according to Public Works Superintendent Russell Overton.
In June 2018, however, bulk water use accounted for just 876,861 gallons of the 62 million, or 242 GPD per user for the month.
Overton confirmed that the system has been regularly tested for leaks and has been found sound, so a hidden leak is not the problem.
There are 987 residential customers and 104 business/commercial consumers being billed for Meeker treated water. Business and residential customers combined used 29,768,000 gallons in June. That includes the big water users like the county, the rec district and the schools which have large areas of grass to maintain. The Sixth Street Field receives unlimited, unmetered water free of charge; the school district uses ditch water whenever possible; and City Park and Circle Park use river water, as does Highland Cemetery. As of press time, separate residential figures from commercial figures were unavailable.
If the commercial properties in town used 15 million gallons, residential Meeker use would still average at least 200 GPD per person in June, which is double the national average.
That means approximately 31 million gallons of town well water is going to 10 property owners along the 6 mile supply line—for pasture irrigation, lawns, livestock and household use.
By Niki Turner