ITHACA, NY – The City of Ithaca has kept to their word of providing regular updates on the city’s water situations — both the drought and the discolored water issue. Here’s the latest:

[su_note]Our water conservation efforts are working and the situation has improved a bit; however, more rain is needed to stabilize our situation as conditions can change quickly as shown on the graph below. We encourage everyone to continue conservation efforts.[/su_note]

The graph below shows water usage (yellow line) and water flow into the reservoir (blue line). As an earlier news release from the city explained, the goal is to keep the yellow line below the blue line. If the usage becomes greater than the flow, then the city’s 30-day water supply will begin to drain.

As you can see from the graph below, the rains from earlier this week created a spike in water flow, but it is quickly plummeting back toward critical letters.

So far, the conservation effort seems to have had mixed results. The city first announced that citizens should begin conserving on July 27. Water usage has seen a few dips since that date, but has otherwise hovered near 2 million gallons per day.

The last two days shown on the graph have trended downward for water usage. Hopefully this will continue, as conservation efforts will become increasingly important once the fall semester starts.

Discolored water

[su_note]An update on the discolored water issue:

After a decline over the last few weeks, the number of discolored water complaints increased significantly across the City in the last few days. The discoloration is caused by manganese in the water from Six Mile Creek, which is present in higher concentrations due to the drought. The city has been treating the water at the reservoir with sodium permanganate to remove iron and manganese, and while this has successfully eliminated the iron, the level of manganese remains persistently high.

Late yesterday the City sharply increased the concentration of permanganate in order to address this issue. It will take a day or two for the system to reach equilibrium before we know whether this new concentration of permanganate has been successful at reducing the manganese.

The City’s water is safe to drink, although the levels of Manganese may affect the taste and odor of the water. In addition, it can cause staining in clothing during laundry cycles. The City apologizes for the inconvenience this has caused our users. We recognize that this has put added strain on households, and we appreciate your patience as we continue to adjust our treatment processes to address this issue.

Please report increased water discoloration to the Water & Sewer Division at (607) 272-1717, so crews can track the issue and flush hydrants if necessary to mitigate the situation.[/su_note]

Michael Smith

Michael Smith reports on politics and local news for the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached via email at, by cell at (607) 229-0885, or via Google Voice at (518) 650-3639.