Why a watering ban even when it is raining?
Even though we have had some rainy days and there is plenty of water in our lakes, a watering ban is still in effect. A lot of people find this decision confusing, so we have asked Kristin Täljsten, Water and Wastewater Manager, and Bengt Lexander, Process Manager for the expansion of the drinking water treatment plant in the Municipality of Älmhult, to answer questions concerning the current water situation, and to tell us more about the project to expand Älmhult drinking water treatment plant.
Älmhult drinking water treatment plant is a surface water plant, which means that water is drawn from Lake Möckeln and then purified in the facility. So why are we subject to a watering ban?
- “I don’t think many people know that municipal water is classed as a ‘food’, which, in turn, means that a waterworks is officially a food processing plant. The capacity of a drinking water treatment plant is limited by the number of filter installations the water has to pass through to meet the Swedish National Food Agency’s requirements on drinking water quality,” says Kristin, who continues:
“The consumption of drinking water has risen by 30% since 2013, and this naturally affects our capacity to deliver water for purposes other than household consumption, i.e. water for cooking, washing and hygiene. The rise in water consumption is due to the expansion of Älmhult city. In 2017 we were presented with the title of ‘Growth Municipality of the Year’ – evidence of the increase in the number of residents and the size of our business community. And we’re building faster than the waterworks could keep up with. We’ve built a transfer pipeline to Delary to guard against the risk of problems with the water intake from Lake Möckeln. This provides us with an extra source of raw water. However, this water must still be processed in the Älmhult drinking water treatment plant to make it drinking water.”
Why wasn’t the work to expand the Älmhult drinking water treatment plant started sooner, when you could see that the local population was growing?
- “The municipality has spent the past five years working on reports and project planning for the expansion of Älmhult drinking water treatment plant, which may seem like a long time. However, the reason for this is that a drinking water treatment plant is actually a food processing plant, and every drinking water treatment plant built is unique, defined by the conditions that exist with regard to the raw water quality, for example. It is simply not possible to copy a drinking water treatment plant from one municipality and build one exactly the same in another. That’s why we have to devote years to preparing reports and project planning before we can even start building. “During these years both the number of residents and the size of the business community has grown rapidly,” adds Bengt, who emphasises that:
“At the same time as the expansion work is under way, the old part of the plant still has to deliver, and it’s currently running at almost maximum capacity for the volume of drinking water it can produce.”
How can it be that we’re using so much water?
- “Generally speaking, water consumption increases by around 20% on hot summer days. This means we need to produce an extra 500,000 litres of drinking water per day,” says Bengt. He continues:
- “When it comes to the municipality, the new residential areas under construction needs a lot of water. The new areas have to be prepared, developed and linked to our existing water supply grid – and it is this last aspect in particular that needs huge volumes of water. The new pipelines have to be completely free from bacteria, so they have to be flushed through with drinking water. This flushing process can take weeks before the test results are approved.
- The new water pipelines in the Paradiset area are currently being flushed with around 200,000 litres of drinking water every day. As a result of our limited access to the water we need, we’ve postponed construction of several residential areas in Älmhult.”
When will the work to expand the drinking water treatment plant be finished, and how much water will the municipality be able to supply when it’s ready?
- “We launched the expansion project in autumn 2018, and it’s scheduled for completion in autumn 2021. At that time, we will have doubled the capacity of the drinking water treatment plant.”
How long will the watering ban remain in effect?
“It’ll probably remain in effect for the whole of the summer and some way into autumn, depending on the weather. If it rains, we will water less, which will naturally reduce the consumption of drinking water.”
Why does the watering ban apply to so many parts of the Municipality of Älmhult?
“In Diö, we have a water treatment plant that supplies Diö, Liatorp, Råshult and Möckelnsnäs with drinking water. That plant, with the associated purification installations, is dimensioned for the population in these areas. There is no capacity to accommodate a 40% rise in consumption of drinking water during the summer months, which is the figure for Diö water treatment plant. In the future, it is likely that Diö and the associated area will also be supplied with drinking water from Älmhult drinking water treatment plant.
Delary and Ryfors receive their drinking water from Älmhult drinking water treatment plant, which is why they are also subject to the watering ban.”
We at the municipality of Älmhult receives a lot of questions about watering lawns, garden plots and flower beds. What is permitted?
“Generally speaking, you can water garden plots and flowers with a watering can, as this means you use only a limited amount of water. If you have the chance, plant or sow your lawn in the autumn, when conditions are better for it to grow without you having to water it constantly.”
See more information below 'The irrigation ban'
How about people with their own well? Are they allowed to water the grass and fill their pools?
People with their own well are responsible for their own water supply, and these property owners can use their water in accordance with the conditions that affect them. The watering ban only applies to people connected to the municipal water supply.” Read more on https://www.sgu.se/en/groundwater/
Some companies need water to be able to run their operations. What rules apply to them?
“There are some exceptions to the watering ban for the business community, and these are published on our website (only in Swedish).
At the municipality we draw water from a reservoir for irrigating our green areas, and we use lake water to irrigate Älmekulla Park.”
Can you just take water from the lake?
“Länsstyrelsen i Kronoberg, The County Administrative Board states: ‘You do not need to report or apply for a permit for water activities where it is obvious that neither general nor individual interests will be harmed by the impact of these water activities on the water conditions.
As a business operator, you are responsible for checking whether this exemption can be applied. If your operations should harm general or individual interests, the County Administrative Board may apply sanctions and require you to remedy the situation.”
https://www.lansstyrelsen.se/kronoberg/stat-och-kommun/miljo/vatten/vattenverksamhet.html#0 Only in Swedish
Thank you! Our measurements indicate that water consumption has decreased
“Finally, we would like to say thank you to our residents for their efforts to save water. We have noted that you have listened to our appeal, and we can see from our measurements that you are making an effort to help.”
Good to know:
There is a water kiosk on Drivågatan in Älmhult (south of the Blåljushuset centre) where you can fetch water. This kiosk is generally used by residents who have their own well if their water supply dries up.
Did you know ...
... that on average, each person uses approx. 160 litres of water every day? This is divided up as follows:
10 litres for food and drink
30 litres for flushing the toilet
30 litres for washing dishes
20 litres for washing clothes
60 litres for personal hygiene
10 litres for other purposes
... that you can use around 120 litres of water in ten minutes if you wash up in running water? ... that if you turn off the water while you brush your teeth, this will save 48 litres? ... that a running toilet can waste around 400,000 litres of water per year? ... that a dripping tap can waste around 15,000 litres of water per year?
The irrigation ban
The irrigation ban applies to municipal drinking water from Älmhults and Diös waterworks and means that:
• The drinking water should be used primarily for food, drink and hygiene.
• Do not use a water hose or water sprayer. Use watering can instead, but as sparingly as possible.
• Do not fill your pool with drinking water. This also applies to inflatable pools, outdoors hot tubs and spa baths. A buried pool can only be filled to a level where the pool frame does not risk collapsing, but no more.
• Do not wash the car with a water hose or high pressure wash. We refer instead to approved car care facilities, and especially halls that recycle the wash water.
• Do not use high pressure wash to wash facades, porches and fences or similar.
Irrigation of the municipality's plants
We would like to inform you that the municipality does not use drinking water for irrigation. Instead water from a lake is used.
If you have questions contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or call + 46 476 550 00