Heat wave puts pressure on utilities

MARION, IL (KFVS) - As we all try to keep cool in this oppressive heat we're asking a lot of our utilities.

Rend Lake Conservancy District pumps millions of gallons of water per day to dozens of communities in southern Illinois. But in extreme heat, it's tough to keep up.

"As far as having water available, we're in fine shape," said Rend Lake water superintendent Leonard Killman. "We're not having any problems with production either. It's just trying to get everybody the water they want at the same time."

Killman says it's tough because in the hottest hours of the day, a lot of people reach for the hose.

"Washing cars, filling swimming pools, when it's hot it's nice to cool off with water," Killman said.

That was the idea in Buckner where firefighters opened a hydrant for the towns' kids to cool off Thursday. But Killman says it was too much to fast at a time when demand is very high. As a result, Buckner's water supply dropped to low levels.

Killman says if a town's supply gets too low, it may run dry before rend lake can re-fill the tank. That leads boil orders.

Killman says dry ground conditions tend to cause water main breaks. It's another summertime problem that can lead to dry tanks in small towns.

"Use your water wisely," said Killman. "I know it feels good to go out and play in the water, but this time of year, when demands are up it's a strain on everyone's water system."

Last summer, rend Lake Conservancy set a water usage record and is on track to break that record this week.

Ameren Illinois may break its record as well. The record of 9,605 Mega Watts was set July 21, 2011, but Ameren officials fully expect this heat wave will break it.

Air conditioners have to work harder to keep up in this heat, pulling a lot more power from the grid.

Ameren officials say they're ready for it.

"We're monitoring our system to make sure we have everything in normal condition that way we can limit overloads out there," said Ameren electrical operations superintendent Kelly Bouza.

To cut down on your power consumption, Ameren recommends closing your curtains to keep the sun's warming rays out and changing the filter on your air conditioner to maximize its efficiency. Also, avoid using your oven, dryer and dishwasher during the hottest hours of the day.

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