City of Lincoln
2013 Media Releases
- July 23, 2013
- For More Information Contact:
- Diane Gonzolas, Citizen Information Center, 402-441-7831
- Jerry Obrist, Lincoln Water System, 402-441-7571
Mayor Urges Water Conservation
Watering restrictions NOT in effect at this time
Mayor Chris Beutler today encouraged Lincoln residents to conserve outdoor water for the remainder of the summer by following the designated day schedule for outdoor watering. He said keeping daily water usage to 70 million gallons per day (mgd) or less could prevent water rate increases that would take effect only if voluntary or mandatory water restrictions were implemented. Sunday's water use was 72.5 mgd, the highest use so far this month.
"Despite the wet spring, we are still about eight inches below the normal rainfall amount for the past 12 months," said Mayor Beutler. "Conditions in other parts of the State are impacting our water supply, and many parts of Nebraska remain in severe drought. With no measurable rain here since June 24th and only scattered rain in the rest of the State, flows at the City wellfields on the Platte River are down to about one-third of normal."
The City Council has 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 as well as changes for those using private wells. A summary of the changes follows this release.
The designated day watering schedule has remained the same for single-family and duplex properties:
- Properties with street addresses ending in even numbers, including zero, are asked to limit outdoor water use to Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays.
- Properties with addresses ending in odd numbers are asked to limit outdoor watering to Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
Jerry Obrist, Utilities Coordinator for the Lincoln Water System (LWS), said the designated day schedule helps to level the daily usage of water throughout the week. He suggested those with automatic sprinkler systems adjust them to the designated day schedule now 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.
The City is again using portable message signs to report the City's progress on meeting the 70 mgd goal and to urge conservation. All LWS customers also are receiving flyers with their bills reminding them of the designated day schedule and urging them to "Plant Smart, Water Smart, Grow Smart!"
The Mayor also has proclaimed July as Smart Irrigation Month to promote irrigation practices that conserve water. The Irrigation Association has produced coloring books that LWS will distribute throughout the community. More information is available at smartirrigationmonth.org.
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 May 13, 2013:
- 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:
- 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.
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.
- 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.