And according to meteorologists, more is on the way ... as soon as late today or tonight.
Craig Mullinax, manager of Cleveland Utilities’ Water and Wastewater divisions, reported the filter plant — as of Nov. 15 — is recording 58.50 inches of rainfall for the Cleveland area. This is 9.72 inches beyond the norm, Mullinax explained.
Much of the unprecedented splash began on Labor Day when heavy rains ruined more than a few family outings, but most importantly runoff and temporary ponding also led to historic flash flooding that impacted several Bradley County neighborhoods and individual homes. The late-summer holiday rains were measured in some areas of the community at 12 to 13 inches.
Since that time, the Cleveland City Council has been besieged by complaints from municipal residents seeking government answers to flooding and erosion that in some cases is being blamed on new construction and development — especially in the city’s northern end.
In last week’s sessions, which again were attended by flooding victims, the City Council authorized spending $200,000 from the General Fund to help pay for a floodplain study.
According to Mullinax’s numbers, reported in a recent session of the Cleveland Board of Public Utilities, the Cleveland area’s average rainfall for this time of year is 48.78 inches, far below 2011 levels. To date, November rains this year have accounted for only 1.75 inches, but October rainfall netted 3.75 inches while September was the prime gully-washer with 16.65 inches.
By contrast, the months of July and August recorded only 1.78 and 0.27 inches respectively during the height of a summer drought that damaged crops and browned lawns across the Southeast Tennessee region.
The September 2011 rainfall total is the largest in recent years. Before September, the most drenched month in Cleveland came in March 2011 with 10.38 inches. Other wet performers included May 2009 when 10.14 inches fell, and December 2008 when 9.55 inches were bucketed.
By year, 2008 had 48.13 inches of rain. Some 68.16 inches were recorded in 2009, and the sky faucets unleashed 48.03 inches in 2010.
At this rate, Mullinax projects 2011 will finish with 63.82 inches of rainfall which ironically is 5 inches less than a generous 2009. Also based on current trends, this year could finish 10.24 inches above normal, Mullinax said.
The region’s driest year since 1996 came in 2007 when only 28.40 inches fell, a modest amount that not only debilitated area crops, but also threatened livestock.
Historically, wet years are good for farms, gardens, crops, lawns, wildlife and lawns, but bad for Cleveland Utilities because they slice into water sales volume. The more natural rain, the less need for CU water.
In his Water Division update for the month of October, Mullinax reported volume sales of 240,870,750, representing a 7.9 percent drop over October 2010. For the month, the Water Division had 29,829 customers who paid on average $4.15 per 1,000 gallons of water.
On the fiscal end, the Water Division took in $1,086,926 in actual revenue compared to a budgeted forecast of $1,111,312. The division’s expenses totaled $1,011,330, compared to budget projections of $1,053,675.
End-of-month earnings for October rounded out at $75,596, compared to the budget forecast of $57,637.
According to Ken Webb, manager of CU’s Accounting Division, sales volume traditionally slumps in the Water and Wastewater divisions during the late autumn and winter months.