Weather Alert

City Encourages Water Conservation This Spring and Summer

Automatic sprinklers watering lawn

(KFOR NEWS  April 13, 2022)   With hot and dry conditions forecasted for this spring and summer, Lincoln Transportation and Utilities (LTU) today encouraged residents to begin water conservation efforts now.

Lincoln’s water supply comes from wells on the Platte River, and the Lower Platte River Drought Consortium encourages good water conservation practices based on projected warmer temperatures and below normal precipitation through June. LTU’s Lincoln Water System Division is a member of the Consortium, which includes major water utilities, natural resources districts, and the State of Nebraska. Consortium members work together to sustain public water supplies in the lower Platte River basin.

Lincoln Water System Superintendent Steve Owen said Lincoln Water System monitors weather and water conditions year-round and follows its Water Management Plan when the city experiences hot and dry conditions. On a hot summer day, he said, residents will use more than 50% of Lincoln’s daily water supply to irrigate grass and other landscape plantings. Much of this water is wasted through overwatering, evaporation, irrigation system leaks, and poorly maintained systems.

“Lincoln Water System is equipped to manage the lack of moisture forecasted this summer, but customers can also make a significant positive contribution when it comes to conserving water,” Owen said. “One way residents can do their part, is by taking their sprinkler systems off the automatic function, and instead become more invested in their lawn’s daily maintenance by turning the sprinklers on only when needed, which can be as little as once or twice per week.”

Other water conservation methods include the following:

  • Water during early morning hours to avoid water evaporation.
  • Avoid watering on hot or windy days to reduce evaporation.
  • When mowing, remove only one-third of the grass height at one time. When grass is cut too close to the root system, the system must grow deeper, which requires more water.
  • Minimize or stop fertilization in the spring. Heavily fertilized lawns require more water and are more susceptible to drought conditions. Fall fertilization is the most beneficial.
  • Aerate the lawn to encourage healthy grass root growth and allow water to soak deep into the ground.
  • Mulch grass clippings to retain soil moisture and reduce the need for fertilizer.
  • Monitor soil moisture using a shovel or measuring probe.
  • Sharpen mower blades. Dull blades injure the grass, requiring more water for the grass to heal.
  • Use rain barrels to collect water for landscape watering.
  • Reduce the amount of area needing irrigation by investing in a sustainable rock garden.

Lincoln Water System customers use 30% less water today than in the 1980s due to improved water conserving plumbing fixtures, increased regulations, and a greater awareness of the need to conserve the valuable and finite resource. Lincoln Water System has also increased its summer capacity by more than 30% over the last 10 years by building additional wells.

The last time the City implemented mandatory water restrictions was in 2012, when a lack of rainfall led to historically low Platte River flows. In 2019, the City requested residents voluntarily reduce water use following flood damage to the City wellfields on the Platte River.

For more information on water conservation and on the Lincoln Water System Water Management Plan, visit water.lincoln.ne.gov.

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