No shortages and no rate increases expected
Mayor Don Wesely today announced that this summerís drought conditions resulted in a record year for water usage in Lincoln, but there are no projections for a user fee increase for this fiscal year. Officials with the Lincoln Water System, a division of the Public Works and Utilities Department, say the city was able to avoid mandatory water conservation measures and potential shortages because of voluntary conservation efforts.
"The citizens of Lincoln deserve the credit for helping us avoid water shortage problems," said Mayor Wesely. "This summer, when we asked the people of Lincoln to voluntarily cut back on their water usage, they didnít disappoint us. We have a great history of citizen cooperation, and this is another example of our community spirit at work."
This past fiscal year (September 1, 1999 to August 31, 2000), the city used over 15.2 billion gallons of water compared to over 12.6 billion gallons the previous year. During May through August, daily water usage exceeded 70 million gallons 18 days compared to four days in both 1998 and 1999. During these same months, daily water usage exceeded 60 million gallons 40 days compared with ten days in 1998 and nine days in 1999.
An all-time water usage record for the month of August was set this year with sales topping the 1.9 billion gallon mark. The Water System also saw eight consecutive months of all-time record monthly sales from October 1999 through May 2000. John Miriovsky, Superintendent of Water Production, said the drought helps explain the record August, but the growth of the community is also a significant factor.
"Lincoln is growing at a fairly rapid rate," Miriovsky said. "That obviously means more people and more water needs. But the combination of new home construction equipped with water-conserving fixtures and overall improved water conservation awareness has helped us handle the increased volume demands." Miriovsky said citizens are using water more efficiently by watering during the cool parts of the day, installing more efficient water sprinkling systems and making sure that the water is going on the lawn and not the pavement.
Miriovsky also praised the Mayorís Water Conservation Task Force for its work involving the communityís nurseries in the promotion of drought tolerant plants and efficient watering measures.
"The Task Force a great example of individual citizens, private businesses and government working as partners toward a goal that benefits us all," Miriovsky said.
Despite the record water usage, Lincoln Water System Officials say ground water levels in the Platte Valley well field are not significantly lower compared to levels over the past ten years.
"If the citizens of Lincoln continue their current water conservation practices, future problems can be avoided," Mayor Wesely said.
The Lincoln Water System has not had a rate increase since February 1991. The fee structure encourages water conservation, because the rate increases at higher usage levels:
0 through 8 units* - $0.90 per 100 cubic feet
9 through 23 units - $1.11 per 100 cubic feet
over 23 units - $1.55 per 100 cubic feet
*One unit equals 100 cubic feet.