City of Lincoln
2013 Media Releases
- May 16, 2013
- For More Information Contact:
- Diane Gonzolas, Citizen Information Center, 402-441-7831
- Miki Esposito, Public Works and Utilities, 402-441-7548
Mayor Not Recommending Watering Restrictions
Residents encouraged to follow good conservation practices
After record drought conditions last summer, Mayor Chris Beutler today announced that the City's water supply is 96 percent full, and he will not ask residents to follow the voluntary designated-day watering schedule at this time. Lincoln's water comes from well fields along the Platte River. Officials with the Lincoln Water System (LWS) say precipitation is near normal levels, the aquifer is almost full and flows in the Platte are just slightly below normal. LWS will review river flows and water usage the first week of June to determine if additional conservation measures are needed at that time.
"Last July and August were the driest since 1887, prompting the City to issue mandatory outdoor watering restrictions for the first time since 2002," Mayor Beutler said. "We all learned from that experience and have taken action to improve our water management plan, reduce confusion and encourage conservation. We are in good shape now, but we all know how uncertain our summer weather can be. We will continue to monitor our supply and usage very carefully over the next few months, and we ask residents to stay informed and be prepared to follow restrictions if they become necessary."
The City Council Monday approved the use of higher water rates during voluntary and mandatory water restrictions as well as the decriminalization of water violations. A revised water management plan also includes new designated watering days for apartment complexes and commercial properties and changes for those using private wells. A summary of the changes follows this release.
Mayor Beutler encouraged residents to begin using water conservation practices now. He suggested those with automatic sprinkler systems adjust them to the designated-day schedule before restrictions take effect. While customers have three designated days to water, lawn professionals say one or two days a week is adequate, and over watering can lead to shallow roots and lawn diseases. Other ways to decrease outdoor watering include the following:
- Do not water in windy conditions or during the heat of the day.
- Raise your mower height to 3.5 inches, and leave mulch on the lawn to retain moisture.
- Keep automatic sprinklers maintained, install a rain sensor and reduce watering times.
- Adjust sprinklers to water only the lawn, not the sidewalk, driveway or street.
More information is available by visiting water.lincoln.ne.gov or calling the Water Management Hotline at 402-441-1212.
SUMMARY OF CHANGES IN CITY WATER PLAN
The City Council approved the following changes Monday, May 13:
- City water rates will increase when the Mayor declares voluntary or mandatory water restrictions. City water is billed by the unit, equal to 100 cubic feet (748 gallons), and the residential structure has three price blocks:
Rates increase again if the water shortage is deemed to be "critical" or "catastrophic." Bills are sent out bi-monthly and based on two months of water use. Bill amounts are determined by the amount of water used in each block. Rates for non-residential and industrial customers also will increase slightly under voluntary or mandatory watering restrictions. The rate increase is smaller because these customers provide jobs, and the water use for large customers is more stable throughout the year.
- The rate for block one (first eight units per month) will remain at $1.344 per unit for voluntary restrictions and increase to $1.559 per unit for mandatory restrictions.
- The rate for block two (nine to 23 units) will increase from $1.911 to $2.624 per unit for voluntary restrictions and to $2.771 per unit for mandatory restrictions.
- The rate for block three (all additional units) will increase from $2.961 to $4.587 per unit for voluntary restrictions and to $5.635 per unit for mandatory restrictions.
- Violating the mandatory water restrictions will no longer be a misdemeanor criminal offense. Egregious or multiple violations may be filed criminally by the City Attorney's Office. The penalty is $50 for the first offense, $250 for the second offense and $350 for third and subsequent offenses. The Police Department will continue to enforce watering restrictions, but officers will not be required to present the citation to the tenant or property owner in person and could leave it on the door of the property.
The Mayor has approved the following revisions to the Water Management Plan:
- If mandatory restrictions are implemented, apartment complexes, commercial properties and other similar properties will be required to limit outdoor watering to Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays regardless of address. The designated-day watering schedule will remain the same for single-family and duplex properties:
- Properties with street addresses ending in even numbers, including zero, will be required to limit outdoor water use (watering lawns and washing vehicles) to Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays.
- Properties with addresses ending in odd numbers will be required to limit outdoor watering to Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
Owners of private wells are encouraged but not required to follow the designated day watering schedule and other restrictions. If the Mayor implements mandatory water use restrictions, private well owners will be required to post a sign on each property served by the well. The City will supply the signs at no charge. For homes and businesses, owners must post the signs in a window so they are visible from the street. For areas not directly associated with a structure, yard signs will be available to pick up at the LWS Operations Center, 2021 N. 27th Street, from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays.