The Idyllwild Water District continues to monitor its water supplies and usage. Foster Lake, the district’s largest storage reservoir, showed a slight increase in January.

General Manager Terry Lyons reported to the board that the lake’s water level was 6.5 feet, a half-foot improvement. The water level of the wells around the lake remained unchanged from January, which Lyons described as “not good.” The lake’s level is far below its capacity of 18 feet. A year ago, January 2012, the lake level was 17.5 feet.

January’s cold snap caused a surprising and unexpected surge in water usage last month. Pipes throughout the district succumbed to the freezing temperatures.

IWD’s production was nearly 8.4 million gallons, compared to the 4.7 million gallons produced in January 2012 and 6.6 million gallons in December. Last month’s production was the greatest in more than a decade.

“The January monthly production [rate] was 215 [gallons per minute] as compared to January 2012 with 122 gpm,” explained Lyons. “We had about 50 water leaks through customers meters and some on our side of the meters throughout the month of January that increased the water pumped into the system.”

A consequence of the large number of leaks was unaccounted for water rose to 14 percent in January, “the highest its been in a while,” Lyons said. A year ago, it was 3.3 percent and averaged 6.4 percent during the past 12 months.

In other business, the board accepted a bid to construct a new water storage tank in the Golden Rod Zone. A $221,500 bid from J. Colon Coatings of Alta Loma was accepted. The cost includes construction of a 200,000 gallon welded reservoir as well as removal and disposal of 100,000 gallon bolted tank.

The additional capacity is what Lyons believes the district will ultimately need for the zone. “It’s enough capacity for complete buildout,” he told the board.

The district is nearing the acceptance of two more wells into the distribution system. All that is needed is the state’s approval of water quality tests, which should occur in the next few weeks, according to Lyons. Well 23 was purchased this fall and with improvements its flow rate has nearly doubled, from 28 gpm to 55 gpm. Also Well 10 will be available and its flow is estimated to be 30 gpm.

Lyons also reported on progress with Riverside County Open Space Department on the location of a new storage tank in the Tollgate area. With the completion of a survey, he expects the agency to take the agreement to the Riverside County Board of Supervisors this spring.