TERRE HAUTE —
As grass throughout the region continues to brown, the business of water appears to be soaking up the green stuff.
Rita Fortner’s five trucks were busy Thursday, hauling water to customers throughout her 60-mile service area.
“We’re doing six wells today. Some days we’ve done 10,” the owner of Fortner Water Hauling said, adding this has been an uncommonly busy year. “That’s quite a difference. I’ve been in business for 12 years, too.”
Business has nearly tripled this year as wells continue to dry up from Greencastle to Sullivan. Even properties with deep wells are starting to fizzle, she said.
Meanwhile, ponds need to be filled as fish begin to die.
Fortner said her workers dumped 5,000 gallons into one hole last week.
“It didn’t even make a dent,” she said, reporting comparable increases in her business filling pools.
“People can’t afford to go on vacation, so they’re choosing to get swimming pools instead.”
Josh Michels, sales manager at Backyard Leisure on West Honey Creek Drive, said that’s been the case at his store this year.
“It’s been our best year ever for above-ground pools,” he remarked, noting 45 have been sold this year to date, with more orders coming in.
The warm spring had people thinking of swimming pools early on, he said. And last year’s heat also seems to still be on their minds.
Joe Loughmiller, spokesman for Indiana-American Water Co., said overall usage has gone up significantly this summer.
“We’ve obviously seen an increase,” he said, explaining his company serves about 30,000 customers in Terre Haute, and has contracts with Riley, Sullivan, Farmersburg and Prairieton.
The company offers a vending service at its Terre Haute location, 800 N. First St., where people can buy up to 100 gallons of water for 50 cents. As many as 100 people a day have used that service, Loughmiller said. Farmers needing water for cattle, landscapers trying to save their plants, and people trying to charge their wells have all been in the mix.
“We’re definitely getting a lot of people using that this summer,” he said. A Sullivan location also features this service at 21 S. Maxwell St.
Access to water has made all the difference where golf courses are concerned.
Dave Kennedy, golf operations manager for the City of Terre Haute, said the fact that Rea Park Golf Course has its own wells has been a big factor in keeping that property green this year. Thursday afternoon, he said that course alone had used 14 million gallons of water this year.
Hulman Links Golf Course, on the other, lacks such access and is noticeably drier, he said. The course is still playable, but the difference between it and Rea is visible. Other golf courses throughout the region are faring much worse, he said.
Overall though, the city’s courses are doing well in a season where rainy days haven’t had a chance to slow business.
“We’re actually having the best year we’ve had in decades,” he said of the Rea Park course. “We’re averaging 125 to 175 players every day.”
The early spring gave both city courses a big boost, with Rea able to maintain that momentum throughout the summer despite the heat. Friday afternoon’s Vigo County Education Foundation golf scramble had 36 teams of four already signed up.
“That’s as big as you can get. You don’t want to be any bigger than that or you’ll be out there forever,” he said.
Brian Boyce can be reached at 812-231-4253 or email@example.com.