Williams Well 4

The winter storm earlier this month was a blessing for the city of Williams, filling the city's shrinking reservoirs. The city had been living under severe water restrictions since last February due to low water levels in reservoirs like the Santa Fe Dam, pictured. 

Last week’s winter storm helped rescue the city of Williams from the Stage 4 water restrictions the city has been living with for more than a year.

Meager snowpack over the last two years combined with the failure of one of the city’s main water wells put Williams in a precarious water situation since last February.

But the recent rain and snow was a big boost to the city’s reservoirs, which now hold a 16-month supply of water based on peak summer demand. Those surface water supplies are the basis for water restrictions, according to city code.

The water refill means the city’s limits on building permits, watering of lawns and washing of cars, among other activities, have been lifted as of this week. The city is now under the lowest level of restrictions that only recommend conservation.

But, that isn’t “an open door to turn the hose on let it run down the concrete,” emphasized Kyle Christiansen, Williams’ public works director.

Between the end of December and this week, Dogtown Lake, the city’s biggest reservoir, grew from 119 million gallons to 191 million gallons and is now 56 percent full. Cataract Lake, another reservoir, more than doubled in size, from 45 million gallons to 98 million gallons and is now 72 percent full. Buckskinner Lake is now completely full. Santa Fe Dam and Kaibab Lake, which were so low they were untreatable, also filled up considerably.

“That's the thing we haven’t gotten in the last several years was wet, heavy snow,” Christiansen said. “It shows you how important just one storm could be to our community.”

The city’s water picture improved even more on Saturday when its 3,000-foot-deep Dogtown 1 well, which has been out of operation since May, started working again. The city put a smaller pump in the well and it is now producing 150 gallons per minute. All that water is now going into Dogtown Lake, Christiansen said.

The city is also in the process of drilling a fourth well, the Sweetwater Well, on city property north of Interstate 40.

Emery Cowan can be reached at (928) 556-2250 or ecowan@azdailysun.com

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Emery Cowan writes about science, health and the environment for the Arizona Daily Sun, covering everything from forest restoration to endangered species recovery efforts.

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