Monticello officials plead for water conservation
“We are not in a water crisis now, but we have to prepare for next year,” said Monticello City Manager Kelly Pehrson regarding the current water situation.
The City of Monticello is hoping to educate citizens about proper outdoor watering and the need for conservation in light of the low amount of water coming off the mountain.
Pehrson pointed out that they are not trying to scare residents, but feel this is the time to prepare by using water prudently. Pehrson expressed concerns about the future, comparing the current year to 2001 before the major drought that followed in 2003 and expressing the need to be conservative in order to keep from experiencing major restrictions in the event the low water collection years continue.
City Public Works Supervisor Nate Langston said that currently the city is not experiencing a drought situation, but they want citizens to remember what it was like during the bad times in 2002 and 2003 and be conservative.
“We could be on the verge of another bad time. Loyds Lake is obviously down and not coming up much,” said Langston.
He added that there is very little snow left on the mountain and the flow is well below average for this time of year.
Langston reported that typically at this time of year, there is enough water coming off the mountain to keep the culinary ponds full and overflow to fill the secondary ponds.
A recent slowdown in the secondary water system caused concern for citizens about the amount of water available. Langston reported that the city typically uses 1.3 million gallons of secondary water in April. This year, 1.7 million gallons were used in the first two weeks of the month. Reduced flow and increased use caused a problem.
Langston says that the city is ready and willing to help any resident learn better ways to water their lawn. He points out that the city has a residential lawn watering guide specifically geared to the Monticello climate available through the city office. The guide details how to determine the amount of water applied by sprinkling systems and the distribution of the water.
Several suggestions for more effective watering include checking and repairing sprinkler heads and checking for obstructions of those that are set too low in the ground. According to the guide, Monticello users need .5 inch of water applied to lawns during each irrigation.
An outline of irrigation needed by month is included in the guide. Typically in the months of May through August, watering needs to be done only once every four days, changing to once every five days in September and then once every eight days through the end of the season.
The city water conservation ordinance passed in 2006. Airborne watering is not allowed between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. from June 1 through September 15. The council will review the ordinance at upcoming meetings to consider changing the restriction on airborne watering to a year round restriction, or possibly beginning the restriction May 1.
The city will also be more diligent in enforcing the ordinance this year. Those in violation will be given one warning and will be fined on the second offense. The council will discuss the fine and set an amount at the next council meeting. On the third offense the secondary water will be shut off for the remainder of the season.
In an effort to educate citizens, the city offers several tips for conservation, including keeping laws 1-3 inches long in order to require less water and allowing root systems to become deeper and more water efficient.
Other suggestions include using short sprinkler cycles for water to be absorbed and watering early in the morning and late in the evening to reduce evaporation. They suggest making sure sprinklers water the lawn only and not pavement, and to not water on windy or rainy days.
Langston wants citizens to be aware that there is potential for water problems in the next few years. “If we conserve and be smart this year, it will be better for next year.”