Water cutbacks achieved, but the city asks for more

The city is asking residents to do even more to curb their water use as the water level in Reeder Reservoir continues to drop.

City officials said they are likely to implement mandatory water curtailment measures. Officials will make that decision on Monday.

On Aug. 11, city officials asked residents to voluntarily cut back on their water use by 20 percent.

Residents have accomplished that goal, Ashland Public Works Director Mike Faught said this week.

"The community did a great job of meeting the 20 percent," he said.

However, at the time city officials asked for the voluntary curtailment, 4 million gallons of water per day was flowing from the Ashland Watershed into Reeder Reservoir. Now, only 3 million gallons per day are coming in, Faught said.

The community was using 6.7 million gallons of water per day before the voluntary water curtailment began. The city is also required to release a million gallons of water into Ashland Creek daily.

City officials are asking residents to cut their irrigation use by 20 percent, since irrigation consumes the largest amount of water.

A gallon of water can flow out of a garden hose in just eight seconds. Running a sprinkler for 30 minutes can use 225 gallons of water.

In the winter, when people aren't watering lawns and gardens, the community uses only about 2.5 million gallons of water.

"With the shorter days and cooler nights, there should be minimal to no impact on plant materials with a reduction of at least 20 percent of irrigation timing," City Water Conservation Analyst Robbin Pearce said.

City Administrator Martha Bennett said if the community cannot cut its water use enough under voluntary curtailment the city will have to institute mandatory water curtailment.

If put into effect, the city's mandatory water curtailment provisions include four stages, with each stage placing greater restrictions on the amount of water allowed per water meter. If a household or business uses more than the allotted amount, the charge for the extra water is four times the normal amount.

"If we go there, it will have a significant effect on those who don't conserve," Bennett warned.

The Ashland Parks and Recreation Department cut its irrigation by 20 percent last week. The department cares for city parks, along with Ashland Community Hospital and Ashland School District grounds.

The city-owned Oak Knoll Public Golf Course is watered with Talent Irrigation District water, which doesn't come from the Ashland Watershed.

If necessary, the city could put 1.5 million gallons per day of TID water into Reeder Reservoir, Bennett said.

Untreated water is stored in the reservoir above Lithia Park.

For information on how to reduce irrigation water use, call the city of Ashland's Conservation Division at 552-2062.

Staff writer Vickie Aldous can be reached at 479-8199 or vlaldous@yahoo.com.

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