Lincoln voluntary water conservation efforts begin Friday

Published: Jun. 1, 2023 at 1:21 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 2, 2023 at 10:52 AM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - The City of Lincoln is beginning efforts to conserve water due to the ongoing extreme drought conditions in Lancaster County by asking residents to follow the City’s water conservation guidelines beginning on Friday at 5 p.m.

Lincoln Transportation and Utilities Director Liz Elliott said the drought conditions have depleted the aquifer that supplies Lincoln’s wellfield to only 65 percent of capacity and that Platte River flow is at its lowest since 1956.

Elliott also said voluntary water conservation is the first phase of the City’s Water Management Plan which emphasizes outdoor water conservation as the primary management tool. In the summer Lincoln’s water use almost triple’s the amount used in the winter.

Residents are encouraged to work together to ensure Lincoln maintains adequate water supply throughout the summer. “Water is an important community resource that we all share,” Elliott said. “It is through our collective efforts that we can safeguard our water supply for essential needs including cleaning, bathing, fire protection, health services, and waste removal, along with business and industrial uses.”

Voluntary water conservation for Lincoln begins Friday, June 2 at 5 p.m.
Voluntary water conservation for Lincoln begins Friday, June 2 at 5 p.m.(City of Lincoln Transportation & Utilities)

Residents are asked to follow the recommended schedule for outdoor uses. The water use schedule is as follows:

  • Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday – Single family households and duplexes with addresses ending in an odd number (1, 3, 5, 7, 9)
  • Sunday, Wednesday, and Friday – Single family households and duplexes with addresses ending in an even number (0, 2, 4, 6, 8)
  • Sunday, Tuesday, and Friday – All other property types regardless of address. This includes multi-family residential, commercial, business, office, industrial, governmental, townhomes with common irrigation systems, and medians and rights of way not association with an address.

Additionally, those with automatic sprinkler systems are encouraged to water only when needed on designated watering days. If property owners have more than one street address at the same location, they can choose either daily schedule and notify the Lincoln Water System of their decision.

Dick Campbell, Owner of Campbell’s Nursery, said conserving water following the recommended schedule will not damage lawns and outdoor plants.

“The designated day watering schedule will easily allow you to keep your plants and grass alive and healthy,” Campbell said. “In fact, watering deeply just once a week is actually much better for your lawn than shallow waterings every day.”

In addition to limiting outdoor watering to one to two times per week, Campbell said residents can conserve water in a variety of ways including:

  • Water during the early morning hours to avoid evaporation.
  • Check sprinkler systems for leaks.
  • Increase mowing height to help keep moisture in your lawn’s soil.
  • Adjust sprinklers to water only the lawn, and not the sidewalk or street.
  • Use mulch to limit evaporation and retain moisture in the soil.
  • Plant drought-resistant shrubs and flowers that require less water.

According to the Lincoln Transportation and Utilities Department, the last time Lincoln was issued voluntary and mandatory water restrictions was when the City’s wellfield at the Platte River was damaged by flooding in 2019. The last time Lincoln issued drought-related voluntary and mandatory water restrictions was in 2002 and 2012.

Exceptional drought in Lancaster County for first time ever