Columbia\'s new Water Resource Plan could impact water utilities

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COLUMBIA - Columbia Water and Light is asking for public input on water supply, water recycling and conservation for its Integrated Water Resource Plan

Residents gave their thoughts on Wednesday night though an open house meeting. The plan will serve as a guide for water supply in the next 25 years. 

According to the city's website, Columbia's main source of water is groundwater from an aquifer near the Missouri River. The water system treats and transports water to more 115,000 people. 

Spokesperson for the city of Columbia Connie Kacprowicz said Columbia's growing population and dry summer impacts the new plan. 

"The end of the summer has been very dry. Irrigation causes the water utility's peak demand. Irrigation is what we need to ask our customers about. It really is a community decision," Kacprowicz said. 

Kacprowicz said the long-term planning process will help prepare for challenges like irrigation, which is when the city pumps the most drinking water. 

"I hope that people would be involved because it is part of their water utilities. Anyone that is a water customer really needs to weigh in on this," Kacprowicz said. 

The plan will also evaluate supply alternatives in the water system including expanding the existing wellfield, using alternative groundwater sources and surface water supply. 

"Right now, all of our water is treated to drinking water standards, regardless of how it will be used. If there are opportunities to use non-potable water for irrigation or commercial use, that would reduce the amount of water that is treated at the plant and delivered to people's homes and businesses," Kacprowicz said. 

Residents unable to attend the meeting can provide feedback on the project's website.

Columbia Water and Light will finalize the report and present it to the city council in early 2017.