Going Green: Fort Wayne Water Supply

Published 08/05 2014 01:44PM

Updated 08/05 2014 02:06PM

The City of Fort Wayne uses between 40-45 million gallons of water everyday.  With the recent events happening with Toledo's water supply, we have to ask if this could happen here locally?

For about 19 years, the City of Fort Wayne and other communities along the St. Joe and Cedar Creek Rivers have been working on green initiatives in order to prevent something like this happening close to home.

"I'm personally concerned that this may be the tip of the iceberg.  I wouldn't be a bit surprised to see this type of concern show up again, perhaps maybe even later this season."

Greg Lake is the Interim Executive Director for the Allen County Soil and Water Conservation District.  He says although farmers are taking a very proactive approach, polluted water is making it's way to the Great Lakes.

"The western basin of Lake Erie is so shallow.  The Maumee  provides a significant contribution to the waters of the western Lake Erie basin.  It is heavily nutrient latent because it's coming from a large, agricultural watershed."

Abby King of the Maumee Grassroots Organization says that the focus needs to be on cleaning up the Maumee River so that we are not sending pollution downstream to other cities.

"Our drinking water is actually pretty high on the standards of clean drinking water, but I don't want Lake Erie to be an indicator of what is to happen for millions of people downstream from us when we can send them clean water from the Maumee."

The City of Fort Wayne draws it's water from the St. Joe River.

Frank Suarez with City Utilities says that if a similar situation that happened in Toledo happened here close to home, the City of Fort Wayne has a plan.

"In a situation if you had it in a river, the natural flow of the river would break it up.  But if it didn't, we would have an option of possibly opening our reservoir to push more water down, closing our intake area where we take water in, and allowing that to push that stuff out of the way.  Break it up, and move it on down the stream so that it would be out of the way and diluted quite a bit."

Although cities farther away are not connected to Fort Wayne's piping system, the Summit City has nearly 2 billion gallons of water stored away in case of emergency.

"Fort Wayne has a lot of extra capacity as far as production capabilities, and so it's ability to provide additional water to a city like Toledo, to produce extra would certainly be in our realm if it was necessary."

Suarez says communities have the ability to support one another.

"We have our pumps, but also when we need others, we have other communities that say 'yes, you can borrow ours if you need them', and we do the same for other communities when they need them."

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