Does Clarke County Have Enough Drinking Water? Updated 04/02/14


Most Americans take their drinking water for granted.  As long as sufficient amounts of water are available when we turn on the shower or the kitchen faucet, we give water little thought most days.  Most people have very little understanding of where their water comes from and the infrastructure required to deliver it to their home or business. 

West Lake is the current raw water supply for the Osceola Water Works. Built in 1934, it is a 306 acre reservoir owned by the City of Osceola.  It is located approximately one-half mile west of Interstate 35 and one mile north of U.S. Highway 34.

Currently the Osceola Water Works treats raw water and supplies potable water to the cities of Osceola and Woodburn and to the rural area in Clarke County east of Interstate-35. The treated water for this rural area and the town of Woodburn is distributed by the Southern Iowa Rural Water Association (SIRWA).  Water is provided to the town of Murray and rural areas in Clarke County west of Interstate-35 through SIRWA. Due to better hydraulics, this water is piped from the Creston water treatment plant, located 15 miles west of the Clarke-Union County line.

During periods of low precipitation, such as occurred in both 2012 and 2013, the water level in West Lake drops significantly due to withdrawal rates exceeding recharge rates.  As part of the planning process for Osceola’s longer term water needs, the Clarke County Reservoir Commission has commissioned two water needs studies. 

According to the Howard R. Green study, Future Water Demands / Clarke County Reservoir Commission, Osceola, IA (October 2008), the average daily demand is expected to be 3.0 million gallons per day (mgd).  The average water yield of West Lake is expected to be about 800,000 gallons per day.  Therefore, there is an unmet demand of 2.2 mgd.  The CCRC commissioned an update of the 2008 report from HR Green which was issued in February 2014.  That second study showed essentially the same future demand, about 3.0 mgd.  Copies of both reports can be found on the archive tab of this website.  

With SIRWA responsible for delivering potable water to Murray and rural residents west of Interstate-35, as well as all or parts of 12 other Iowa counties, it is critical that SIRWA have enough water to meet its demand. To assess its future needs, SIRWA commissioned similar water needs studies in 2006 and 2013 by Garden & Associates, LTD. of Oskaloosa, Iowa.  A copy of the most recent report can also be found on the archive tab of this website.  

In the November 2013 water needs study for SIRWA, Garden and Associates predicted that in 2035 SIRWA will need an additional three million gallons of treated water per day.  Over 25 percent of that additional need will be for confined animal feeding operations (CAFO) predicted to be constructed in the future.   Since each new cafo creates new water demand similar in size to a small town, significant growth in animal agriculture in the SIRWA service area will increase water demand substantially. 

Does Clarke County have enough drinking water?  The simple answer to that question is no.  If the area is to grow economically in the future, it must expand its available water supply soon.

The two aforementioned water demand studies can be found under the Archive Tab.  

  Clarke County Reservoir Commission   P. O. Box 343 Creston, IA 50801   PH: 641-782-4033   email:  

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