City increasing use of non-drinkable water
Mayor Don Wesely announced today that the city’s average daily water use has met the 65 million gallon goal since mandatory water restrictions went into effect July 20. Daily usage is averaging 63.5 million gallons, and usage has been below 65 million gallons five of the last seven days. From June 21 through July l9, the average daily use was 74.7 million gallons.
"We thank the residents of Lincoln for recognizing the importance of water conservation and making sacrifices," said Mayor Wesely. "Our priority must be on supplying the essential water needs of the community – drinking water and other home uses, sanitation, fire protection and commercial and business activities."
Under the mandatory restrictions, property owners with street addresses ending in even numbers may water their lawns and wash cars and other vehicles only on even-numbered days. Those with addresses ending in odd numbers may water only on odd-numbered days. The Mayor initially asked for citizens to voluntarily conserve water June 25 and instituted a voluntary odd-even outdoor watering schedule July 6. The City has not implemented mandatory water restrictions since 1974.
Lincoln’s water supply comes from the well fields near Ashland, which pump water from an underground aquifer. The aquifer is dependent on river flows to replace the water drawn out. One area of the well field dipped below the critical level last week, but the Lincoln Water System (LWS) made adjustments to draw more water from other areas of the well field. Current modeling shows that LWS has re-charged the critical area.
Over the past week, river flow at the Ashland well fields has ranged from 650 to 1,100 cubic feet per second (CFS). An average flow of 600 CFS is required to sustain the well fields at the 65 million gallons per day consumption level.
To date, no customers have had their water shut off as a result of violating the mandatory restrictions, but the Lincoln Water System (LWS) has sent out 121 warning letters. The Lincoln Police Department issued three citations from July 27 through August 1.
In response to the dry conditions, the City is increasing its use of treated, non-drinkable water from the wastewater treatment plants. The non-drinkable water is being used at the City treatment plants for watering the grounds and in-plant water needs. The uses of the non-drinkable water are limited to street sweeping vehicles; watering trees in parks and watering public landscape plantings along streets or in boulevards; and dust suppression for road or construction sites.
"The limited use of non-drinkable water poses very little health risk to people due to the small chance of direct contact or ingestion," said Scott Holmes, Environmental Health Chief at the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department. "When wastewater is properly treated, these are approved uses even under the most stringent regulations in the nation. Lincoln’s wastewater treatment plants include disinfection as the final step of treatment, which greatly reduces the levels of potentially disease causing bacteria."
The last day of operation at three public swimming pools – Air Park, Ballard and Kuklin – is Sunday, August 5. After the chlorine naturally dissipates from the pool water, the Parks and Recreation Department will use the pool water to water public plantings instead of simply draining the pools.
"Recycling the pool water is an innovative way to use thousands of gallons of water as we all work to conserve water," Wesely said.
GENERAL WATER RESTRICTION INFORMATION
The latest information on water restrictions and water usage amounts are posted daily on the City web site at
The rules currently in effect for mandatory water restrictions include the following measures:
In addition to following the odd-even system, the LWS recommends watering during the cool part of the day; not watering when it is windy; adjusting sprinklers to water only the lawn, and not the sidewalk or street; using a broom, not a hose and water, for outdoor cleaning; and washing cars with a pail of soapy water, using the hose only to rinse the car.
City residents are also reminded that water fees are structured to encourage conservation. Information on water rates can be found on the City web site.