As the Aug. 21 total solar eclipse approaches, officials have warned that local residents should purchase their supplies ahead of time to avoid shortages. For Deschutes Valley Water District patrons, tap water is not likely to be among the supplies subject to shortages.
According to Ed Pugh, DVWD manager, the district has increased its total water storage by 7 million gallons over the past decade, to a total of 16,171,000 gallons.
The most recent large additions to the district's storage facilities include a 4-million-gallon water tank next to the main tanks, added in 2013, and a 3-million-gallon tank alongside the Metolius tanks, south of the auction yard, added in 2007.
The district also has three other main tanks with a total capacity of 4.5 million gallons; two 110,000-gallon tanks at Round Butte; two other tanks at Metolius with a total capacity of 2.5 million gallons; a 1-million-gallon tank on the plains; a 500,000-gallon tank at Deer Ridge Correctional Institution; a 150,000-gallon tank on Juniper Butte; a 201,000-gallon tank at the KOA; and a 100,000-gallon tank at Gateway.
The tanks serve the district's 5,000 customers, including 900 who live in Madras, as well as Culver, Metolius, and the surrounding areas — a 12-mile-wide swath of land that extends 23.5 miles.
Even though the district has plenty of power for pumping water out of the 850-foot-deep Opal Springs Canyon, southwest of Culver, until last year, the district didn't have large enough capacity in its pipes to effectively use the 3,250 horsepower generated by its nine pumps.
In 2016, the district completed a $2 million project to install a 24-inch pipeline out of the canyon. That pipeline more than doubled the combined capacity of the existing 12-inch diameter pipe, built in 1959, and 20-inch diameter pipe, built in 1976.
"Before the 24-inch pipe was installed, our practical maximum flow out of the canyon was under 6,000 gpm (gallons per minute)," said Pugh. "We did a pump test on July 7, 2017, and pumped 10,559 gpm, (with) all pumps running simultaneously."
"We have plenty of extra pumps for redundancy purposes involving three separate transformers," he noted.
"I feel the district is in the best possible position to handle growth (or an eclipse) than it ever has been," said Pugh. "We have plenty of storage, pumping, and now transmission mainline capacity."
The mainline transmission capacity includes the 24-inch pipe out of the Opal Springs Canyon, and the 24- and 20-inch pipe that was installed from Opal Springs all the way to the roundabout at the intersection of J Street and Grizzly Road, on the east side of Madras, he added.
"I know people are being advised to stock up on extra supplies, but I really don't foresee any drinking water shortages in the district during the eclipse," said Pugh. "However, extended power outages and local fires requiring lots of fire fighting water are possible wildcards."
"We can currently pump 10,559 gallons per minute out of the canyon, which is the same as 633,540 gallons per hour which is the same as 15.2 million gallons per day," he said. "It is incredible that we can now refill our tanks from empty to full in 25.5 hours. Of course our plan is to keep them as full as possible throughout the eclipse week."