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Posted on: July 9, 2021

City of Spearfish updates water conservation program, alert statuses

sprinkler

Residents asked to conserve, adjust watering schedules

SPEARFISH, SD – The City of Spearfish Water Conservation Program was updated to include Code Yellow (mandatory conservation), adding a step between Green (voluntary conservation) and Orange (rationing). Residents are asked to use an even/odd day watering day schedule, only water during the hours of 6 p.m. to 8 a.m., and increase efforts to conserve water. 

“Our production numbers jumped up dramatically over the last month,” Public Works Director Brandy Kean said, explaining that the City produced more than 3.5 million gallons of water a day in June this year, compared to approximately 1.8 million gallons a day in June 2020.

“We want to bring water conservation to people’s attention and have voluntary cooperation,” she said. “We need to be cautious this year because of the dry and drought conditions around the state, as well as the region. We don’t want to have to ration, which is what is happening in other areas of the country where prolonged drought necessitates it.”

Water conservation alert status indicators are used to inform users of the water restriction level currently observed within the City. Factors used to establish the status include current water production level as compared to historic production levels so the City knows: if it can continue production at that level; if it has exceeded its water rights; the length of time the high usage is expected to continue; and what would happen to production if any of the wells were to go offline. Another factor considered is the U.S. Drought monitor as published by the National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center.

The water conservation program is under the direction of the city’s Water/Wastewater Utilities Department to advise customers of the importance of water conservation by being good stewards of the resource and “how it can directly save customers money on their utility bill.” 

The water conservation alert status indicators include:

- Blue, defined as the normal (voluntary) water conservation alert, when users are asked to practice water conservation, such as watering lawns no more frequently than every other day, only watering between the hours of 6 p.m. to 8 a.m., etc. Under this status, the water system is operating normally.

- Yellow, defined as mandatory conservation alert, when customers follow an even/odd irrigation schedule (i.e. only watering on odd or even dates of the month – not every day) and only water during the hours of 6 p.m. to 8 a.m. Customers are encouraged to limit outdoor water use and minimize indoor water use. The city moves to this indicator at the recommendation of the Water/Wastewater Utilities Superintendent, with the consent of the City Administrator and Public Works Director. The City Council is notified of the status change.

- Orange, defined as rationing conservation alert, when users are asked to minimize indoor water use and required to limit outdoor water use as defined on the water conservation policy. Under this alert, outdoor watering is limited to vegetable gardens only, between the hours of 6 p.m. and 8 a.m., and only with water cans/buckets or handheld hoses with a nozzle shutoff. The use of water in decorative fountains is prohibited, as well as the washing of vehicle from residential water spigots (unless the cleaning is necessary to preserve the proper function/safe operation of the vehicle). The washing of paved surfaces is also prohibited. A move to this indicator requires a resolution by the City Council.

- Red, defined as critical water conservation alert, when water supplies are only available for health and safety needs, when users are strongly requested to minimize indoor water use and are prohibited from all outdoor water use. This alert may be implemented in emergency situations, such as significant damage to infrastructure, severe wildfire/structure fire in the area, prolong power outages, or other catastrophic events. The intent of this status alert is to be declared for a limited amount of time until the water supply system can be stabilized. This indicator may be declared by the Water/Wastewater Superintendent, with the consent of the City Administrator and Public Works Director.

“We are the stewards of this resource, and it is our responsibility to protect and preserve our water supply through conservation efforts,” Miles Burtzlaff, water/wastewater utility superintendent, said.

Kean said that the sprinklers on City property conform with the water conservation program and pointed out that the city park and cemetery are irrigated by water from Spearfish Creek. She added that the restrictions would not apply to those using irrigation ditches for landscape watering. 

Changes to the water conservation alert status will be posted in City buildings and on the City website, cityofspearfish.com. Information may also be distributed through users’ utility bills, local media, door hangers, etc. For more information about the city’s water conservation program, status indicators, and tips to increase water conservation around your home, visit cityofspearfish.com/423/Water.

Caption: The City of Spearfish Water Conservation Program was updated to include Code Yellow (mandatory conservation), putting a conservation step between Green (voluntary conservation) and Orange (rationing). Residents are asked to use an even/odd day watering day schedule, only water during the hours of 6 p.m. to 8 a.m., and increase efforts to conserve water.  Courtesy image

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