Marion near urging limits on water use
With sustained drought, water at Marion Reservoir is almost low enough to begin implementing water conservation, Marion City Administrator Doug Kjellin told Marion Chamber of Commerce on Friday.
When the reservoir level drops below 85 percent of conservation pool, the city enters a “water watch.” On Monday the water level was 86.6 percent. It drops about 1 percent each week of drought, Kjellin said.
During a water watch, the city reminds residents to conserve water. Limitations are voluntary.
Restrictions become mandatory at more severe levels. A water warning is issued when the reservoir level falls below 70 percent of conservation pool. The goal of a warning is to reduce peak demand by 20 percent and overall consumption by 10 percent.
During a water warning, the city curtails operation of city fountains, watering of city foliage, and washing of city vehicles. Residents may water lawns every other day — odd-numbered addresses on odd-numbered days and even-numbered addresses on even-numbered days.
Lawn watering and car washing is prohibited between 10 a.m. and 9 p.m. and golf courses may water only tees and greens and must wait until after sunset. Swimming pools may be refilled only once a week after sunset, and outdoor watering is restricted to hand-held hoses or buckets only.
The city may impose surcharges for water used in excess of winter use, but such provisions aren’t automatic.
If the reservoir level falls below 50 percent of conservation pool, the city issues a water emergency. The goal is to reduce peak demand by 30 percent and overall consumption by 20 percent.
During an emergency all outdoor water use is banned.
A chamber member asked how the city would enforce such a ban. Kjellin said that if someone was seen using water outdoors, a notice would be left at their house warning them to stop.
If the resident ignored the notice and continued using water outdoors, the city would disconnect the residence’s water. The resident would have to pay a reconnection fee, which increases for each violation of the ban.
The regulations are specified in a city ordinance, Kjellin said. The ordinance was approved in 1998, and the conservation plan was updated in June. On Monday city employees couldn’t remember any situations when the city declared a water warning or emergency.