Mayor Chris Beutler today announced that mandatory water restrictions are now in effect for the City of Lincoln due to historically low flows in the Platte River basin Residents are now REQUIRED to follow the designated day schedule for all outdoor watering, including the washing of vehicles:
The City has not issued mandatory water restrictions since 2002. Mayor Beutler said the City reached the decision to implement mandatory restrictions after reviewing the results of new computer modeling on the impact of the reduced river flows. He said City officials also have met with State officials about the City's water rights under its existing permit. That permit designates the amount of water the City is legally entitled to draw from the Platte River basin.
"We do have the legal authority to decrease the amount of crop irrigation upstream to increase the river flows at our wells near Ashland," Beutler said. "But we also realize that agriculture is the economic backbone of this City and of this region, and this is a crucial time for our ag producers. We should not require them to make potentially devastating sacrifices before making further efforts ourselves."
Under the mandatory water restrictions, washing sidewalks, driveways and other paved areas is prohibited. Re-filling or adding water to private swimming pools and wading pools may occur only between midnight and 6 a.m.
The Mayor thanked residents who have responded to the City's our call for voluntary water conservation. On August 3, he lowered the goal for water usage to no more than 60 million gallons a day. Since then, daily water use has averaged about 64 million gallons.
The Lincoln Police Department will enforce mandatory water restrictions. Violators who are convicted may be punished by a fine of up to $500 dollars or up to six months in jail or both. Each day that a violation continues is a separate offense. Violations should be reported to the Lincoln Police Department non-emergency number - 402-441-6000.
"We are encouraging residents to be good neighbors," Beutler said. "If you see someone watering on the wrong day, please consider the possibility that they may not know about the mandatory restrictions or be confused as to the proper days. A friendly reminder may correct the problem and prevent a visit from the police."
City departments and facilities have already implemented water conservation measures. The City is contacting other large government and education partners in Lincoln to encourage cooperation with the mandatory reductions.
"This is one of those times when we must work together as a community to achieve an extremely important goal - the protection of our water supply," Beutler said. "We can have the biggest impact by reducing our outdoor water use. Our Water Management Plan includes additional and more restrictive steps we can take if needed. But I believe the public will respond and help us prevent any more serious restrictions, and bring closer the day when restrictions end."
Those with questions on the water restrictions can contact the Lincoln Water System at 402-441-5918.