Regardless of its conditions — from dry to wet to frozen — weather doesn’t stray far from the lips of local conversation.
It popped up recently in a monthly report by Craig Mullinax, manager of the Cleveland Utilities Water Division. The information was presented to members of the Cleveland Board of Public Utilities.
“[The year] of 2011 was the wettest year for rainfall that we’ve had,” Mullinax said. At least, that’s for the last 16 years since the Cleveland Filter Plant has tracked the area’s annual rainfall.
“It has been extremely wet,” he added, and like most Cleveland customers and Bradley County residents, “... we’ll just have to see what happens [in 2012].”
What is happening so far is a wet year, as judged by the 4.80 inches that have fallen on Cleveland as of Jan. 23. Additional heavy rainfalls have fallen in the area since that time. An updated report will be made Thursday by Mullinax during a formal session of the utilities board.
In 2011, January offered 3.69 inches of rain, and the three prior years totaled 4.14 inches in 2008, 5.46 inches in 2009 and 6.13 inches in 2010.
In total, 2011 skies dropped 71.61 inches of rain as recorded at the Cleveland Filter Plant. This compares to 48.13 inches in 2008, 68.16 inches in 2009 and 48.03 inches in 2010.
For 2011, the month-to-month rainfall total included January, 3.69; February, 2.40; March, 10.38; April, 9.37; May, 3.71; June, 4.75; July, 1.78; August, 0.27; September, 16.65; October, 3.75; November, 8.16; and December, 6.70.
January and February precipitation has shown little sign of slowing.
Weather impacts Cleveland Utilities because periods of excessive rainfall can become a strain on the existing storm water collection system which can cause manhole overflows while also affecting the operation of the wastewater treatment plant. Dry weather, although more difficult on Cleveland residents, actually favors Cleveland Utilities because it translates into higher water sales volume.
It’s not weather-related, but another part of the Water Division report by Mullinax showed 14 meter sets for December. A meter set refers to the physical connection of a new or remodeled building to CU’s existing water distribution system.
Meter sets are a gauge of construction activity which in turn is an established measure for a community’s economic health. For several months, Mullinax has used meter set numbers as a gauge for showing that the economic health of Cleveland and Bradley County is continuing to improve from The Great Recession that has impacted the U.S. and global economies for the past three years.
By comparison, the 14 meter sets in December 2011 were slightly lower than the 15 in December in 2009 and 2010.
The first six months of Fiscal Year 2012 have seen 166 meter sets. Average meter sets in December are 28, Mullinax reported.
The Water Division manager said the December 2011 meter sets did slightly drop, but that it still points to a “positive” in local construction and economic development.