Mayor Chris Beutler today announced that the City's water supply is 95 percent full, and he will not ask residents to follow the voluntary designated-day watering schedule at this time.
Lincoln's water comes from well fields along the Platte River. Lincoln Water System (LWS) officials say precipitation has been below normal levels from December through March and slightly above normal in April. LWS will review river flows and water usage in early June to determine if additional conservation measures are needed at that time.
"We are in good shape now, but we all know how uncertain our summer weather can be," said Mayor Beutler. "We will continue to monitor our supply and usage very carefully over the next few months. It's important that residents to stay informed and be prepared if the situation changes and we determine that restrictions are necessary."
Last year, the City Council revised the Water Management plan and approved the use of higher water rates during Phase 1 through Phase 3 water restrictions. The revised Water Management Plan now includes new designated watering days for apartment complexes and commercial properties and changes for those using private wells. Details can be found at lincoln.ne.gov (keyword: water shortage rates). A summary of the changes to the Water Management Plan follows this release.
Mayor Beutler encouraged residents to begin using water conservation practices now. Lawn professionals say watering one or two days a week is adequate, and over-watering can lead to shallow roots and lawn diseases. Other ways to decrease outdoor watering include the following:
More information is available by visiting water.lincoln.ne.gov or calling the Water Management Hotline at 402-441-1212.
City water rates increase when the Mayor declares Phase 1 through Phase 3 water restrictions. City water is billed by the unit, equal to 100 cubic feet (748 gallons), and the residential structure has three price blocks:
Rates increase again if the water shortage is deemed to be "critical" or "catastrophic." Bills are sent out bi-monthly and based on two months of water use. Bill amounts are determined by the amount of water used in each block. Rates for non-residential and industrial customers also increase slightly under Phase 1 through Phase 3 watering restrictions. The rate increase is smaller because these customers provide jobs, and the water use for large customers is more stable throughout the year.
Violating the Phase 2 and Phase 3 water restrictions is no longer a misdemeanor criminal offense. Egregious or multiple violations may be filed criminally by the City Attorney's Office. The penalty is $50 for the first offense, $250 for the second offense and $350 for third and subsequent offenses. The Police Department continues to enforce watering restrictions, but officers are not required to present the citation to the tenant or property owner in person and may leave it on the door of the property.
If Phase 2 and Phase 3 restrictions are implemented, apartment complexes, commercial properties and other similar properties are required to limit outdoor watering to Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays regardless of address.
The designated-day watering schedule remains the same for single-family and duplex properties:
Owners of private wells are encouraged but not required to follow the designated-day watering schedule and other restrictions. If the Mayor implements mandatory water use restrictions, private well owners are required to post a sign on each property served by the well. The City supplies the signs at no charge. For homes and businesses, owners must post the signs in a window so they are visible from the street. For areas not directly associated with a structure, yard signs are available to pick up at the LWS Operations Center, 2021 N. 27th Street, from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays.