Mayor Chris Beutler today announced that mandatory water restrictions are now in effect for the City of Lincoln due to historically low flows in the Platte River basin Residents are now REQUIRED to follow the designated day schedule for all outdoor watering, including the washing of vehicles:
• Properties with street addresses ending in even numbers (0, 2, 4, 6 and 8) must limit outdoor water use to Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays.
• Properties with street addresses ending in odd numbers (1, 3, 5, 7 and 9) must limit outdoor water use to Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
• No residential watering is allowed on Mondays.
• Property owners with more than one street address at the same location can choose either schedule and must notify the Lincoln Water System (LWS) today of their decision.
The City has not issued mandatory water restrictions since 2002. Mayor Beutler said the City reached the decision to implement mandatory restrictions after reviewing the results of new computer modeling on the impact of the reduced river flows. He said City officials also have met with State officials about the City's water rights under its existing permit. That permit designates the amount of water the City is legally entitled to draw from the Platte River basin.
"We do have the legal authority to decrease the amount of crop irrigation upstream to increase the river flows at our wells near Ashland," Beutler said. "But we also realize that agriculture is the economic backbone of this City and of this region, and this is a crucial time for our ag producers. We should not require them to make potentially devastating sacrifices before making further efforts ourselves."
Under the mandatory water restrictions, 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.
The Mayor thanked residents who have responded to the City's our call for voluntary water conservation. On August 3, he lowered the goal for water usage to no more than 60 million gallons a day. Since then, daily water use has averaged about 64 million gallons.
The Lincoln Police Department will enforce mandatory water restrictions. Violators who are convicted may be punished by a fine of up to $500 dollars or up to six months in jail or both. Each day that a violation continues is a separate offense. Violations should be reported to the Lincoln Police Department non-emergency number - 402-441-6000.
"We are encouraging residents to be good neighbors," Beutler said. "If you see someone watering on the wrong day, please consider the possibility that they may not know about the mandatory restrictions or be confused as to the proper days. A friendly reminder may correct the problem and prevent a visit from the police."
Police say even if you have a private well, you may not be off the hook.
"If someone actually has a private well and the sprinkler head has been broken and is now discharging water out into the street we're also going to make contact with that citizen," Chief Jim Peschong said.
To help conserve water, the city is taking some interesting measures. City pools actually close this Sunday and instead of just draining those pools the city is actually going to harvest the water once the chlorine dissipates and use that to water city parks, trees, and golf courses.
City departments and facilities have already implemented water conservation measures. The City is contacting other large government and education partners in Lincoln to encourage cooperation with the mandatory reductions. A flyer summarizing the steps to follow under mandatory water restrictions is available online at www.lincoln.ne.gov. The Mayor encouraged employers to forward the flyer to their employees. He also encouraged retailers to print and copy the flyer to distribute to their customers.
"This is one of those times when we must work together as a community to achieve an extremely important goal – the protection of our water supply," Beutler said. "We can have the biggest impact by reducing our outdoor water use. Our Water Management Plan includes additional and more restrictive steps we can take if needed. But I believe the public will respond and help us prevent any more serious restrictions, and bring closer the day when restrictions end."
Those with questions on the water restrictions can contact the Lincoln Water System at 402-441-5918. The City website also includes the daily usage totals, the City's Water Management Plan and tips on water conservation.
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.
• Businesses that rely on water for operation such as commercial nurseries and car washing facilities may continue to operate.
• Those with new sod (less than 30 days) and those with water-cooled air conditioners may obtain a free watering permit from the City Building and Safety Department. For new sod, receipts and proof of purchase date will be required. Permits must be posted in a window facing the street. Building and Safety is on the second floor of the County-City Building, 555 S. 10th Street, and the phone number is 402-441-7521.
• Property owners with private water supplies such as wells are exempt from restrictions. They should post the permits they receive from the Health Department to avoid questions from neighbors and the Police Department.
PARKS AND RECREATION DEPARTMENT
City pools close August 12, and after the chlorine dissipates, the water will be used to irrigate street trees, parks and golf courses. Golf course fairways will be maintained as dormant with weekly watering on Mondays. Greens and tees will be watered on the regular schedule to prevent the high cost of replacement. City fountains were turned off last week except for Sunken Gardens, which has its own well. Signs will be posted at other park facilities with their own wells. Watering at ballfields and on landscape medians is being reduced.
VIOLATIONS AND PENALTIES
To report violations, call the Lincoln Police non-emergency number - 402-441-6000. If your neighbor is watering on the wrong day, please make sure they are aware of the water restrictions before reporting the violation.
The Lincoln Police Department will enforce mandatory water restrictions, and violators are subject to a citation. Those convicted of a violation can be punished by a fine of up to $500 or up to six months in jail or both. Each day a violation continues constitutes a separate offense.
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