Cameron water restrictions: Dry conditions leave levels low in reservoirs

CAMERON, Mo. - Low levels at several reservoirs have left one northwest Missouri community with a water shortage. The city of Cameron issued a water alert to help replenish the shortened supply.

Most non-essential use of water is now prohibited including the testing of fire hydrants and flushing of sewers. Restaurant customers should only receive water by request. Watering plants and lawns is also mostly banned until further notice.

The alert will remain in effect until water levels rise on the city's four reservoirs.

The largest lake -- Grindstone Reservoir -- is 100 inches below full capacity. All together, Cameron's supply is just 49 percent of total capacity. Dipping below 40 percent will lead to a water emergency and further rationing.

The Cameron Greenhouse is already cutting back.

"We don't wash our sidewalks down like we normally do," greenhouse manager Jan Thompson said.

Rather than keeping her greenhouse plants alive, Thompson worries about customers' purchases if they're not allowed to water this summer.

Water treatment plant superintendent Paul Rinehart said water rationing is nothing new in Cameron. He said the city's water supply is susceptible to shortages because it completely relies on reservoir water, which can quickly evaporate in times of drought.

The city plans to build a pipeline from the nearby Pony Express Reservoir to add to Grindstone's water level. But Rinehart said that's a temporary fix.

"We've been through three droughts now," Rinehart said.

He believes the permanent fix is a backup water pipeline to Cameron from either Kansas City or Saint Joseph. Rinehart said it will cost a lot of money and take years to complete, but said relying on reservoirs has proven too risky.

"It's time to look for the betterment of the community to have a reliable long-term water source," Rinehart said.

Here is the full list of restrictions:  http://bit.ly/YRLqGI

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