Complete Press Release & Fact Sheet About Eau Claire's Water Restrictions

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For Immediate Release
Thursday, July 13, 2006
7:00 a.m.

Effective immediately, all customers of the City of Eau Claire Water Utility are hereby restricted to watering lawns on alternate days, until further notice. Properties with an odd numbered address may water on odd numbered days; even numbered addresses may water on even
numbered days. Property owners are strongly encouraged to limit watering to the period between 6:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. to avoid the heat of the day.

The City has received minimal precipitation since the first of May and the continuing dry weather has pushed the daily water usage from an average of 10.0 million gallons to 17.0 million gallons.

The Eau Claire water system consists of 15 wells, a water filtration plant, and 15.5 million gallons of storage capable of delivering approximately 20 million gallons for several days, but not on a long-term continuous basis. The failure of any mechanical equipment or a fire could severely limit our ability to meet the demand for water.

The past week we have been unable to replenish the full 15.5 million gallon storage capacity before the peak usage begins in the morning. It is the intent of these restrictions to decrease the amount of water being used to water lawns and provide an adequate supply in the
reservoirs for fire protection and emergency purposes. If the current restrictions are not successful in reducing consumption – additional limitations to lawn watering will be imposed.

We will continue to monitor the water usage, and provide updated information as conditions may warrant.


Fact Sheet: Lawn Watering Restrictions
Effective: July 13, 2006

What are the current lawn watering restrictions ?

A limitation on when lawns can be watered is restricted to every other day. Watering will be allowed on the appropriate side of the street (odd numbered side on odd days, even numbered side on even days).

Are there any exceptions to these restrictions ?

Residents with new sod or seed will be expected to utilize this same schedule. The restrictions do not apply to watering (not sprinkling) of shrubs and new trees, gardens, or filling of tot pools.

Does this apply to City of Eau Claire residents only ?

No. The City of Eau Claire supplies water to residents in a portion of the Town of Washington that were formerly part of the Washington Heights Sanitary District, which is primarily north of Golf Road and Lowes Creek Road (CTH “S”). The restrictions apply to all
customers of the Eau Claire municipal water system. The City of Altoona and Village of Lake Hallie have lawn watering restrictions already in effect.

How long will the restrictions be in place ?

The restrictions will be effective until removed by formal notice. It should be noted that if the alternate day watering does not adequately reduce water usage, more severe limitations may be imposed in order to protect the water supply system.

How is water supplied to the City water system ?

The Eau Claire water system consists of fifteen (15) wells located at the water treatment plant on Riverview Drive. The water filtration plant is capable of delivering approximately 20 million gallons of water for several days, but not on a long-term basis. The system also consists of 15.5 million gallons of storage, which when full is approximately 1.5 times the normal average daily water usage.

What is the intent of the restrictions ?

The purpose of the restrictions is to reduce the amount of water currently being used to sprinkle lawns and provide an adequate supply in the reservoirs for fire protection and emergency purposes.

What has caused the problem ?

The City of Eau Claire has received only 4.5 inches rain since the first of May, which is 4.7 inches below normal. The sandy soils in the area, combined with the hot sunny weather have caused lawns to begin to brown and go dormant. Residents have increased lawn watering to compensate for the lack of rainfall.

How much has water usage increased ?

Water pumped from the water filtration plant has increased from a normal summer daily rate of 10.0 million gallons to over 17 million gallons. The current consumption does not allow for the reservoirs to be completely filled during off-peak periods, therefore causing a strain
on the water system to meet the demand.

What authority does the City have to limit lawn watering ?

Section 14.04.090 of the City Code authorizes the City Manager or his designee to ban sprinkling during specific hours in order to conserve water during a water shortage emergency. The ban is effective upon notice to the media.

What is the penalty for violating the restrictions ?

The City Code provides for a $50.00 forfeiture for violating the provisions of the restrictions.

How will the restrictions be enforced ?
City utility crews will monitor the watering restrictions as a part of their daily work routine and respond to complaints. They will leave a written warning at properties that are in violation. Repeat offenders will be referred to the City Attorney’s Office for enforcement under the
code provisions.

When was the last time the City imposed lawn watering restrictions ?

During the summer of 1988 a lawn watering restriction was in place from the beginning of June until the middle of August. Voluntary reductions in water usage were requested in 1998 and 2003, however sufficient rain fell during the summer that mandatory restrictions
were not ultimately required.

What has been done to the water system since the last watering restrictions ?

The City has added 2.0 million gallons of elevated storage and two (2) new high capacity water production wells at the well field located on Riverview Drive.

What can property owners do to help their lawns during dry conditions ?

Lawn care professionals suggest that the following may be helpful in maintaining lawns.

1. If you are on a fertilization program, the hot period of the summer requires shifting to slow release fertilizers. If you are not on a regular fertilization program, do not apply fertilizers after the second week of June and up through the third week in August.

2. Water between 6:00 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. This allows for the best water penetration and causes less evaporation. Move sprinklers constantly. The goal is not to encourage growth, but rather to keep the crown of the grass plant alive. Dormancy is a normal part of the plants life cycle.

3. If the weather is sunny and breezy, more evaporation is occurring and the lawn should probably be watered 3 times per week. If the weather is sunny and calm, then 2 times per week is sufficient.

4. Do not cut the grass too short. Allow grass to grow to be at least 2½” long going into the dry part of the summer.

Click here to hear what Eau Claire's Director of Public Works has to say about the water restriction