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'Stressed' Aqua Indiana calls for restrictions

– Aqua Indiana asked its customers to stop watering their lawns and limit other non-urgent water uses after problems with its distribution system amplified stress caused by the spring drought.

Tom Bruns, president of the private utility, said an eight-inch water main ruptured in the Aboite Meadows neighborhood over the weekend, draining a "significant" amount of water from the company's storage towers. The company was also forced to replace a water pump that failed after weeks of constant use.

"This unfortunate sequence of events put extra strain on a system that was already stressed by high demand," Bruns said in a prepared statement.

Aqua Indiana serves 12,000 water customers in Allen County and a small portion of Whitley County. Many of those customers live in southwest Fort Wayne.

The hot and dry spring has forced most counties in northeast Indiana to issue burn bans, and similar decisions are being made by more central and southern Indiana counties.

According to the National Weather Service, Fort Wayne has received just 0.06 inch of rain this month, 2.71 inches below normal and threatening the all-time June record of 0.28 inch set in 1910.

Indianapolis has had just 0.05 inch of rain in June – the previous record of 0.36 inch was set in 1988.

Aqua Indiana reported near-record water demand – more than 5.2 million gallons a day over the last seven days. In contrast, Fort Wayne City Utilities has seen its demand jump from 34.4 million gallons June 1 to nearly 48 million gallons on Monday. The worst day for the city last year came in mid-July when it treated 48.2 million gallons. The 1988 drought, the city's historical worst, saw a demand of 59.3 million gallons in a single day.

Fort Wayne City Utilities has placed no restrictions on consumer water use.

While Aqua Indiana has an ample supply of water in its wells and the ability to treat that water, its system of pipes and pumps is having difficulty maintaining normal pressure, according to the company.

Bruns thanked customers for identifying the water main break over the weekend and asked them to report any suspected leaks, unusual pools of water or unusually green grass to the company.

With no significant rain in the forecast, Aqua is asking its customers to shut off sprinkler systems and avoid washing cars. The company will notify customers when they can return to normal use.

blanka@jg.net

Wednesday update

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