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Water Watch-Daily Usage
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July 22, 2002
For More Information Contact:
Jerry Obrist, Lincoln Water System, 441-7571

Mayor Says Daily Water Usage Over 70 million gallons
may prompt additional mandatory restrictions

Mayor Don Wesely said today City water usage fell over the weekend in response to mandatory water restrictions implemented Saturday, July 20. But he and officials with the Lincoln Water System (LWS) said if usage continues to top 70 million gallons daily, additional mandatory restrictions may be implemented by the end of the week.

"I want to thank the citizens of Lincoln for their cooperation in this emergency," said Mayor Wesely. "Despite the continued hot, dry weather over the weekend, usage dropped from 80 million gallons Friday to 75.3 million gallons Saturday and 72.5 million gallons Sunday. Unfortunately, that usage is still too high."

LWS continues to pump close to 80 million gallons a day to fill reservoirs within the City. An analysis of the City’s Ashland well fields shows that the river is flowing at about 700 cubic feet per second (CFS). If the river flow is 1,000 CFS, the City can pump about 70 million gallons daily for 90 days. If the river flow is 200 CFS, the City can pump 65 million gallons a day for 90 days.

"We are asking the community to work with us on a goal of using no more than 65 million gallons a day," said Wesely. "We’ll post the previous day’s water usage on our City web site every morning, so residents can monitor our situation daily." The City web site is

The restrictions now in effect state that properties with street addresses ending in even numbers may only water their lawns and wash cars and other vehicles on even-numbered days. Those with addresses ending in odd numbers may only water on odd-numbered days. This is the first time since 1974 that mandatory water restrictions have been implemented in Lincoln.

LWS received about 100 calls on the restrictions Saturday. About half the callers were asking for information, and the other half were reporting those not following the restrictions. About 50 calls were received Sunday, and again, they were half inquiries and half complaints. The City is asking citizens who see violations to contact the property owner to make sure they understand the regulations before calling LWS. The number for information and complaints is 441-7571. The Lincoln Police Department received about 12 calls over the weekend.

Violations of the emergency water regulations are addressed by two separate City departments:
  • The Public Works and Utilities Department may issue a written notification to inform the person in violation that his or her water may be shut off and will not be turned back on until a $100 bond is posted and the person pays the costs for shutting off and turning on the water supply.

  • Citations for violations may issued by Lincoln Police Department officers. Violators can face fines of up to $500 and six months in jail.

    The two Departments act independently. Action by one is not required before the other can act. Those in violation of the emergency water regulations are subject to action by both departments.

The City’s last significant rain fell the weekend of July 5. The official rainfall total for Lincoln was .17 inches for the month of June. The normal June rainfall is 3.54 inches. Mayor Wesely initially asked for citizens to conserve water June 25. The Mayor institute a voluntary odd-even outdoor watering schedule July 6. The City Parks and Recreation Department began taking water conservation measures July 2. The County-City Public Building Commission put all local government facilities on the odd-even watering system July 9.

The rules for mandatory water restrictions include the following measures:

  • Sod that has been installed for less than 30 days may be watered every day. A free permit from the Building and Safety Department is needed, and receipts and proof of purchase date will be required. Eleven permits had been issued as of noon today.
  • Commercial nurseries are exempt but are asked to curtail all non-essential water use.
  • Commercial car washing facilities may operate
  • The operation of all fountains is prohibited.
  • The watering of golf course tees is permitted on alternative days. Watering greens is permitted, but watering fairways is prohibited.
  • Washing sidewalks, driveways and other paved areas is prohibited.
  • Re-filling or adding water to private swimming pools and wading pools may occur only between midnight and 6 a.m. Draining these pools is prohibited except for an end of season closure.
  • Filling or re-filling public pools must be approved by the Mayor.
  • No jet flushing of sanitary or storm sewers shall use drinkable water, unless it is necessary to prevent imminent danger to health and safety.
Additional mandatory restrictions might include a voluntary 25 percent reduction in residential indoor use; a prohibition on laying new sod; limiting car washing to commercial facilities; limiting the use of fire hydrants to fire fighting and water quality activities; and a prohibition on street sweeping. LWS could also inform major industrial, commercial and institutional water users that voluntary or mandatory water reductions and shutdowns may be necessary.

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.

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