Because of historically low Platte River flows, Mayor Chris Beutler today reduced the goal for water usage from 65 million gallons per day to 60. He said the City will make a decision on whether to issue mandatory water restrictions next week when officials receive the results of new computer modeling to evaluate the long-term impact of the reduced river flows.
"I want to thank residents for responding to last week's call for voluntary water conservation," Mayor Beutler said. "Our water usage over the last week has dropped to an average of about 67 million gallons per day. Yesterday, a little morning rain helped us get down to 61 million gallons. Unfortunately, the lack of rain has contributed to a river flow of less than 300 cubic feet per second. We must work together as a community to reduce our water use even more so we have adequate supplies for drinking, fire protection and other essential uses."
The Mayor said that in order to reach the new water use goal, residents must comply with the designated day watering schedule:
Beutler strongly encouraged residents to avoid watering during the hottest parts of the day, when evaporation makes watering much less effective. Daily usage and water conservation tips are posted at lincoln.ne.gov.
The City has not issued mandatory water restrictions since 2002. The lowest river flow in July 2002 was about 650 cubic feet per second. The Mayor encouraged residents to become familiar with the measures that would be enforced under mandatory restrictions. Those are outlined in the City's Water Management Plan available at lincoln.ne.gov (keyword: water).
Beutler said the City has already taken steps to reduce water usage. The Parks and Recreation Department is turning off fountains that are not connected to separate wells and has reduced watering on golf course fairways. Outdoor watering at City facilities has been reduced, and some sites are using wastewater hauled from the treatment plant. Lincoln Water System is continuing to maintain the City's 13,000 fire hydrants, but it is not flowing water from them as part of the testing.
Some City facilities and parks such as the Sunken Gardens and the Hamann Rose Garden as well as some large local businesses have their own wells. "We do not want the public to be discouraged when they see watering continue at these City facilities and businesses," Beutler said. "Their usage does not impact the City's supply."
Turf experts caution against watering every day, unless you have new sod. If mandatory restrictions are issued, those with new sod can obtain free daily watering permits from the City Building and Safety Division. Lawns allowed to go dormant only need about one-half inch of water per week.
City water rates are structured to encourage conservation - the more you use, the higher rate you are charged.