OTTUMWA, Iowa — With the ongoing drought, river levels across the state of Iowa have receded again with many now showing more rocks and sand bars than they do water. In Ottumwa the Army Corps of Engineers river gauge shows .08 of a foot of water on the Des Moines River currently. Downstream from the dam there are people walking to the middle of the river to fish. With this low water scenario, the city of Ottumwa draws all of its water supply from the Des Moines River.
“So right now we’re using all Des Moines river water for community water supply,” said Tim Albert General Manager of the Ottuwma Water Works. “I know the river looks really really low right now but we obviously have a pool of water behind us because of the dam historically we have flows like this for extended periods of time.
Albert said that Red Rock Dam is releasing 300 CFS water flow, which is plenty to sustain the water needs of this city.
“So right now now it’s not a big concern, as winter moves in, the rest the year, the quality of the water sometimes could change when it’s really low.”
The low water flow has caused the hyrdo-electric plant to shut down for now.
“This place is not met what we budgeted this year, the low-water has definitely impacted our revenue,” said Albert. “We budgeted about $450,000 a year, in electrical sales out of here, and we’re little over $300,000 right now.”
Ottumwa has a back up supply of water in a lake west of town. They are considering drilling the City’s first water well. That project could be very expensive.
“That’s the reason that we’re a surface water plant we’re gonna have to go in excess of 2000 feet deep to get to one down here we have an adequate supply water.”